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Unlicensed Contractors Caught in Sting

Six in Sonoma County without licenses face misdemeanor charges.

Six unlicensed contractors working in Sonoma County were among 100 who were caught in a statewide sting operation by the Contractors State Licensing Board's investigative fraud team last month, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said Wednesday.

The CSLB's annual fall "California Blitz" sting operation on Oct. 17 and 18 targeted unlicensed contractors in Sonoma, Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, Placer, San Diego, and San Luis Obispo counties. The fraud team investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for home improvements that included painting, flooring, landscaping, fence repair, tree trimming, gutter installation and water heater replacement, the CSLB said.

Ninety-two individuals statewide were arrested and face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license. The penalty is up to six months in jail and a fine up to $5,000. Two repeat offenders face a mandatory 90-day jail term, the CSLB said.

The Santa Rosa contractors and the names of their businesses reported to be caught without a license in Sonoma County are Jaime Cuevas-Ramirez, "Jimmy's Outdoor Works"; Jorge Flores Castel, "A Home Specialist"; David Curtis Smith, "Sierra Tree Sculpting"; and Erick Mendoza, "Town and Country Landscaping & Maintenance", according to the CSLB.

Also caught in the sting were Canh Van Dinh of Vallejo, "East Bay Pool & Landscape" and "Evergreen Construction", and Angel Lopez Castillejos of Cotati, "Angel's Landscaping & Maintenance", according to the CSLB. Edwardo Zuniga of Rohnert Park, "Gutter Busters", was cited for illegally advertising a disconnected phone number, according to the CSLB.

The Sonoma County contractors will be arraigned Jan. 7 in Sonoma County Superior Court. Ravitch said fraud prevention efforts include asking a contractor for his license and verifying the information with the CSLB, getting a written contract detailing the work and its cost and limiting any down payment to 10 percent of the total contract or $1,000, whichever is less. The contractor should also be willing to provide three references who can be called to verify the contractor performed satisfactorily, Ravitch said.

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