SACRAMENTO – A former licensed contractor whose state license was taken away in 2010 was sentenced to four years felony probation and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine to the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Account administered by the California Department of Insurance. The May 5, 2011 sentencing of Brian Gross, 55, of Valley Springs ( Calaveras County ), in Amador County Superior Court resulted from Gross’ guilty plea on March 2, 2011, to one felony count of fraudulent use of a contractor license number and one misdemeanor count of failure to possess workers’ compensation insurance.
Text Box: Brian Gross, 55, is taken into custody by investigators from the Contractors State License Board and Amador County District Attorney’s Office on October 1, 2010. Gross was arrested by investigators from the Contractors State License Board’s ( CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) and Amador County District Attorney’s Office on October 1, 2010, when they found Gross and three employees roofing a home in Jackson . CSLB was tipped by building officials in Jackson that Gross had attempted to secure a local business license using his revoked contractor license.
CSLB revoked Gross’ “B” General Building contractor license on June 1, 2010, for failure to pay two separate administrative citations totaling more than $4,000. His license expired on December 31, 2009.
Gross’ past administrative citations were for filing false exemptions to avoid paying for workers’ compensation insurance, failure to secure building permits, charging excessive down payments, working outside of his license classification, illegal advertising, and illegal contracts. Even though his license was revoked for failure to pay these fines, Gross continued to contract and advertise in violation of state law.
“CSLB’s valuable partnerships with prosecutors and building officials enable us to bring these unlicensed individuals who are putting consumers, their employees, and legitimately licensed contractors at risk,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands.
California law requires that any home improvement job valued at $500 or more for labor and materials be done by a licensed contractor. Licensees must carry workers’ compensation coverage for all employees so that homeowners are not financially liable if a worker is injured on their property. Roofing contractors are required to purchase workers’ compensation coverage even if they certify they have no employees.
“Unlicensed contractors cause harm to unsuspecting consumers and have an unfair advantage over legitimate contractors who obtain workers’ compensation insurance for their employees and pay proper taxes,” said Amador County District Attorney Todd D. Riebe. “This conviction sends a message to law breakers that we are watching what they do and will prosecute when appropriate to protect law-abiding contractors and consumers.”
CSLB urges consumers to follow these helpful tips before hiring anyone to do work on their home or property:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see their license and a photo ID to verify their identity.
- Always check the license number on CSLB’s website at www.cslb.ca.gov to make sure the license is in good standing.
- Don’t pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment. There is an exception for about two dozen licensees who carry special bonds to protect consumers. These exceptions are noted on CSLB’s website.
- Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let payments get ahead of the work.
- Get at least three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
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 at www.cslb.ca.gov. 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.
You need an experienced Orange County Construction Attorney if you are working as a contractor in Orange County or if you are hiring a contractor to do major work in Orange County.