SACRAMENTO – Tuesday, February 8, 2011, was not a good day for Randy Wade Dueck. The 50-year-old from Red Bluff was again caught contracting without a license and arrested during an undercover operation conducted by the Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), this time in downtown Red Bluff. The sting was conducted in cooperation with the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office and California Department of Industrial Relations.
SWIFT investigators posed as owners of a commercial property near the Sacramento River, seeking painting, flooring, and tile work. A total of eight unlicensed operators who bid more than $500 for labor and materials were arrested and received a Notice to Appear (NTA) in Tehama County Superior Court to face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license (Business & Professions Code 7028). Six will face an additional charge for illegal advertising (Business & Professions Code 7027.1). A ninth person was not arrested, but did receive a $3,000 citation from the Department of Industrial Relations for employing two people without having workers’ compensation insurance (Labor Code 3722).
“We cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure the people you hire to work in and around your home are properly license by the state of California,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “It’s a level of protection that can keep you from becoming a victim of fraud.”
Dueck is no stranger to CSLB investigators. His painting license (#589514) was revoked in 1995 after failing to comply with terms of two administrative citations and failing to pay back claims against his license bond. Dueck was cited by CSLB in 2000 after a consumer complaint and also failed to pay the $1,500 citation. Last April, Dueck was arrested in an undercover sting and plead guilty to a charge of contracting without a license. He was on probation at the time of his arrest this week and even told the undercover investigator before he was arrested that he was nervous about being caught again.
CSLB will ask the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office to charge Dueck for violating Business & Professions Code 7028c, which raises the penalties for a second offense of contracting without a license to a $5,000 fine and 90 days in jail.
California law requires all home improvement jobs valued at more than $500 to be undertaken by a licensed contractor. Contractors also must place their state license number in all advertisements. Unlicensed individuals may advertise and accept jobs valued at less than $500, but their ads must state that they are not a licensed contractor. State law also requires those selling home improvement services for licensed contractors to register with CSLB.
Since 2005, state law has required criminal background checks for anyone applying for a new license or adding a license classification. California law also requires contractors to have workers’ compensation coverage for all of their employees to protect homeowners from liability. License bond information is available when checking the status of a contractor license.
CSLB urges all California consumers to follow these tips before hiring a home improvement contractor:
- Verify the contractor’s license online at www.cslb.ca.gov, or via CSLB’s automated phone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
- Ask to see a photo identification to verify the contractor’s identity.
- Don’t pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less. There is an exception to this rule for about two dozen contractors who purchase special bonds and are noted on CSLB’s website.
- Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let the payments get ahead of the work.
- Get at least three bids and insist on a written contract before your project begins.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on the CSLB website or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). You can also sign up for CSLB e-mail alerts, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. CSLB licenses and regulates California’s more than 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2009-10, CSLB helped recover nearly $42 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
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