In a statewide undercover sting of unlicensed contractors, 75 people -- including five in Clovis -- may face criminal charges, according to the Contractors State License Board, which led the operation.
The five people arrested in Clovis on Wednesday and Thursday included a man previously convicted of robbery, rape, burglary, and injury to a child, officials said. Another had previous felony convictions including drug possession, child endangerment and weapons charges. The others included a registered sex offender, a man in possession of drugs, and a man jailed for a DUI arrest warrant.
"Homeowners should be nervous when they hear the background of some of the people we caught in these stings," said board registrar Steve Sands. "Unlicensed, illegal activity that puts homeowners at risk and legitimate contractors at a competitive disadvantage will not be tolerated."
During the sting, investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for home improvements.
Of the 75 people arrested, 72 may face misdemeanor charges for contracting without a license, officials said. Another 56 may also be charged with illegal advertising, and 10 others may be charged with requesting an excessive down payment.
In California, a home improvement project down payment can't exceed 10% of the contract total, or $1,000, whichever is less, officials said.
Conviction on both of these misdemeanor offenses can lead to a six-month jail sentence and/or fine up to 5,000.
Of the phony contractors nabbed, 13 had been issued stop orders, served when any person, with or without a contractor license, does not have workers' compensation insurance coverage for employees, officials said.
Conviction of failure to comply with a stop order can lead to a 60-day jail sentence and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
Department of Insurance commissioner Dave Jones said his department works closely with state law enforcement partners to make sure businesses comply with the workers' compensation laws, so no business enjoys an "unfair competitive advantage by violating the law."
Local law enforcement agencies that helped with the Clovis sting included the Fresno County District Attorney's Office, Fresno County Sheriff's Department and Clovis Police Department, officials said.
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