State Stings 14 Phony Contractors in Costa Mesa

"License? I don't need no stinkin' license ..."
"License? I don't need no stinkin' license ..."
Photo by flickr user Jan Tik

State and local officials teamed up for a sting operation in Costa Mesa last week that ended with 14 being cited for illegal contracting and/or local business license violations, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) announced Wednesday.

13 Alleged Unlicensed Contractors Busted in State Sting in Dana Point

The CSLB teamed with the Orange County District Attorney's office and Costa Mesa's Police and Code Enforcement departments to conduct the sting operation on Feb. 11-12. Team members posed as homeowners who called the phony contractors for bids on improvement projects that included painting, flooring, tile work and a new concrete driveway and walkway at a South Coast Plaza-area home.

The location was determined due to Orange County's current home remodeling boom. In Costa Mesa, the number of building permits has increased 21 percent over the past three years, according to CSLB officials, who cautioned increased availability of work routinely creates an influx of unlicensed contractors hoping to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.

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The contacted tradespeople responded with bids ranging from $1,650 for interior painting to $13,000 for concrete work. Any home improvement job totaling $500 or more in combined labor and material costs requires that the person have a state-issued contractor license, the CSLB notes.

Fourteen unlicensed contractors provided illegal bids to the undercover investigators and now face a misdemeanor charge each of contracting without a license, according to the CSLB. Twelve of them also face misdemeanor charges of illegal advertising as California contracting law requires unlicensed individuals to state in all advertising that they are not licensed. Two may face additional charges of illegally using another contractor's license number, the CSLB says.

Thirteen of the phony contractors also were cited by Costa Mesa Code Enforcement for not having a city business license.

"The timing of the sting could not be better," says Costa Mesa Building Official Khanh Nguyen in a CSLB release. "We've had an increase in calls from residents regarding shoddy workmanship or unfinished work by unlicensed contractors."

"Many consumers don't realize the risk they take when they hire someone who isn't licensed to work in and around their home," adds CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. "Many ask for big down payments, and then end up abandoning a job, or doing lousy work. Once you give an unlicensed contractor a lot of money, it's very difficult to get it back."

At least there is the legal system to discourage any more of this by phony contractors. The 14 suspects must answer to their contracting violation charges on either May 6 or 13 at Orange County Superior Court's West Justice Center in Westminster. They are identified on the next page ...
 

Name/home city/license classification/alleged violations:

Eric Jason Goodman/Corona/C-33 - Painting and Decorating/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no Costa Mesa business license
Alejandro Garcia Marin/Lake Elsinore/C-8 - Concrete/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no Costa Mesa business license
Gustavo Munoz Silva/Santa Ana/C-33 - Painting and Decorating/contracting without a license, no Costa Mesa business license
Samiuela Niua/Orange/C-8 - Concrete/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, illegal use of license number, no Costa Mesa business license
Jose Manuel Banuelos Zesati/Pico Rivera/C-8 - Concrete/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no Costa Mesa business license
Dean Kenneth Melvin/Costa Mesa/C-33 - Painting and Decorating/contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Timothy Jerome Hund/Santa Ana/C-33 - Painting and Decorating/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no Costa Mesa business license
Robert Francis Besser/Huntington Beach/C-54 - Ceramic and Mosaic Tile/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no Costa Mesa business license
Michael Mathias Weizemann/Huntington Beach/C-54 - Ceramic and Mosaic Tile/contracting without a license, no Costa Mesa business license
Fernando Roman-Antunez, Rainbow Landscaping & Tree Service/Santa Ana/C-8 - Concrete/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, illegal use of license number, no Costa Mesa business license
Iraj Salamipour, Habitat Design/Anaheim/C-54 - Ceramic and Mosaic Tile/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no Costa Mesa business license
Leonardo Villagran Mendoza, Villagran Tree Service/Santa Ana/C-8 - Concrete/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no Costa Mesa business license
Ramon Hernandez Aguirre, J&R Landscape/Santa Ana/C-8 - Concrete/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no Costa Mesa business license
Jose Abad Castro-Fierro, Construction Services/Anaheim/C-8 - Concrete/contracting without a license, illegal advertising, no Costa Mesa business license

Anyone planning to hire a contractor for home remodeling is encouraged to visit the CSLB's "Check The License First" page at www.cslb.ca.gov or call the toll-free automated line 800.321.CSLB (2752). The site also offers tips on how to hire a contractor.

You should also contact your local building department to find out if permits are required for certain types of work, and verify that the contractor has a city business license. In the case of Costa Mesa, call the Building Department at 714.754.5273.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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