Crime - Sacto 911

Suspected unlicensed contractor’s mass mailing proved invitation to arrest

A shotgun approach to advertising resulted an easy arrest of a suspected unlicensed contractor, according to officials with the Contractors State License Board.

Tuesday morning, multiple fax machines at the agency’s Sacramento headquarters began receiving a mass mailing advertisement for a paving and roofing contractor. An investigator with the board’s statewide investigative fraud team called the phone number on the ad and told the person that he was purchasing an office building and wanted to seal-coat and stripe the parking lot around it. The suspect, identified as Michael Anthony Nicholas, 30, of West Sacramento, agreed to come to the location and provide a bid. What the suspect didn’t know was that the building and parking lot were directly behind and next to the California State License Board’s headquarters, according to an agency news release.

Investigators watched from their desks as Nicholas arrived and repeatedly drove around the parking lot to gauge the size of the job.

At the proposed meeting time, the investigator got in a vehicle and drove the 200 yards from the office to meet Nicholas and get his bid for the work. Nicholas told the investigator the job would cost $19,000 and he would need a down payment of $4,500 to get started, authorities said. At that point, investigators from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, who assisted in the operation, drove up and placed Nicholas under arrest.

Authorities said Nicholas is expected to face a misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license. In California, all construction jobs valued at $500 or more in labor and materials must be done by a company with a state-issued contractor’s license. The penalty for a first conviction is up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $700 to $1,000.

Nicholas also may face a charge of illegal advertising, authorities said, noting that California law requires contractors to place the Contractors State License Board license number in all print, broadcast and online advertisements. Those without a license can advertise to perform jobs valued at less than $500, but the ad must state that they are not a licensed contractor. The penalty is a fine of $700 to $1,000.

After receiving a notice to appear in court, Nicholas was allowed to leave. He is scheduled to answer to charges in Sacramento Superior Court on Dec. 3.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy