News

12 home improvement contractors arrested

By Joan Dentler, Bay City News Service

An undercover sting operation resulted in the arrest Thursday of 12 home improvement contractors suspected of doing business in San Mateo County without a license, according to a statewide agency that oversees licensed contractors.

The sting took place at a commercial property in Belmont, and was carried out by members of the Statewide Investigative Fraud Team who posed as property owners.

SWIFT members asked suspects to bid on painting, drywall and flooring projects ranging from $1,000 to $14,000, according to Rick Lopes, a spokesman for the California Contractors State License Board.

In California, all home improvement jobs valued at $500 or more must be conducted by a company or person with a CSLB-issued license, Lopes said.

All 12 suspects were cited for contracting without a license, and one, an East Palo Alto man, was also cited by CSLB on an unrelated $5,000 warrant for driving with a suspended license.

In addition, 10 of the 12 suspects were cited on a misdemeanor charge of illegal advertising. Lopes said seven suspects were contacted through ads on craigslist.org, while five were called from business cards and newspaper ads.

The 12 suspects are Dardo Osmar Romano and Dino Joseph Landucci III, both of San Mateo; Edwin Francisco Zavala Valdivia of Sunnyvale; Hugo De Leon-Garcia of Hayward; Rafael Vicente Andrade Villalta, Concepcion Flores and Rossemberg Emmanuelle Hernandez, all of Redwood City; Loni Taaniela Maama and Filino Sokai Masifilo, both of East Palo Alto; Louie Graciano Ortiz of San Jose; Mario Ramirez Reynoso of South San Francisco; and Daniel Aaron Dayton of San Francisco.

The suspects are scheduled to appear in San Mateo Superior Court on July 15 to answer to illegal contracting charges.

CSLB officials encourage consumers to verify that potential contractors are licensed before hiring them.

"Don't rush your spring cleanup, only to ruin your summer fixing someone's bad work. Check the contractor license. Get three bids," CSLB registrar Steve Sands said in a statement.

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