MADERA COUNTY – Three Madera County Sheriff’s Deputies have received State commendations for their role in an unlicensed contractor’s sting carried out last month in Coarsegold.
Seventeen unlicensed contractors, including a registered sex offender, were caught during a two-day sting in which Deputies Roy Broomfield and Gerald Marin, and Sergeant Larry Rich took part.
The Statewide Investigative Fraud Team, part of the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), set up stings last month at two locations off Highway 41 in Coarsegold to identify and apprehend and those performing work without the proper licensing in place.
Anyone performing construction work in California that totals $500 dollars or more in labor and materials must be licensed by CSLB, according to their website. Licensed contractors must demonstrate at least four years of experience/education in the trade for which they are licensed, be fingerprinted, have an FBI background check, and be bonded.
According to the CSLB, unlicensed contractors are part of the $60-140 billion underground economy that does not pay taxes, insurance, or follow safety laws, and it is the stated mission of CSLB to protect consumers by licensing and regulating California’s construction industry.
CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) conducts stings and sweeps somewhere in California each week, and this time they were assisted by Madera County Sheriff’s Deputies, who were then recognized for their work.
Michael Scaggs, of Squaw Valley, Charles Edward Goodman of Coarsegold, David Roman Alvarez, Sr. of Fresno, Cirilo Renteria Rodriguez of Fresno, Jack Jay Goedhart of Coarsegold, Mark Edward Jordana of Coarsegold, William Lee Smith of Madera, Anton James Blaine of Oakhurst, James Robert Mitchell of Oakhurst, Paul R. Schickel of Fresno, Jesse Michael Rivera of Fresno, Raymond Hernandez Luna of Clovis, Lance Gilman of Oakhurst, Cruz Antonio Banuelos, Jr. of Fresno, Justin Wesley Baker of Coarsegold, Jason Moses Morgan Tipton of Coarsegold were caught and cited for a variety of charges, which included contracting without a license, illegal advertising and excessive down payment.
The last individual to be apprehended was 41-year-old Bryan Patrick Higgins, a registered sex offender who resides in Coarsegold.
According to state reports, Higgins showed up at a home during the sting operation to bid on tree services. He, like the rest, was given a Notice to Appear in court for contracting without a license, illegal advertising and asking for an excessive down payment. He was also found to be driving without a license.
Authorities say the suspects were found through flyers, business cards and phone number “tear-offs” posted on bulletin boards at local businesses.
All 17 suspects are scheduled to make court appearances in Madera County Superior Court next month.
Sheriff Anderson says residents should always ask for a contractor’s license and photo ID, and then verify that information at www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com, before hiring anyone to do any kind of work on your property.