Society

Sex Offender, Drug Users Nabbed in Calif. Sting of Fraudulent Contractors

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The world of home improvement isn’t always like what you see on TV. Actually, it can be a rough business and unless you want registered sex offenders and drug users building your new garage, it's best to shy away from unlicensed contractors.

California’s Contractors State Licensing Board ran sting operations throughout the summer that ensnared dozens of fraudulent contractors in their net.

“CSLB and its partners in law enforcement are serious about enforcing California’s consumer protection laws,” the board’s registrar, Steve Sands, said of the operations. “Unlicensed, illegal activity that puts homeowners at risk and legitimate contractors at a competitive disadvantage will not be tolerated.”

As of mid-July, the sting operations caught 79 phony contractors. In addition to unlicensed individuals, the CSLB picked up “a convicted felon, a registered sex offender, and two suspects caught with drugs or drug paraphernalia.”

Another suspect cost the investigators two hours before they could even figure out his name, as they wound through his labyrinthian trail of aliases. Yet another ran back to his truck and drove away as soon as the investigators identified themselves.

One bogus contractor who had scheduled an appointment with the undercover investigators, who posed as innocent homeowners, failed to show up because he was arrested the previous night in a casino.

The charges that the unlicensed contractors face are mostly misdemeanors, typically carrying possible six-month jail terms, $5,000 fines, or both.

The sting operations, however, have drawn criticism from conservatives who say that California’s licensing requirements are too burdensome and arresting contractors is a waste of resources.

In an article titled, “Why is California Jailing Landscapers? Don’t Cops Have Better Things to Do?!” the conservative magazine Reason wrote, “California suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and the state is under court order to release 10,000 inmates, yet state agents are jailing  people who manage to find home-improvement work.”

SOURCES: Reason, Contractors State Licensing Board, Sacramento Bee