Eight people were cited for illegal contracting last week during an undercover sting operation conducted in the Sacramento area by the Contractors State License Board.
Two of the eight, including a registered sex offender, were cited for a felony charge, according to an agency news release.
On April 26 and 27, the board’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team invited suspected unlicensed contractors to a home near the Meadowview area to place bids on home improvement projects. The suspects were found by searching Craigslist, local Yellow Pages and leads from the Contractors State License Board’s Intake Mediation Center. Bids ranged form $600 to $3,000 for concrete repair, granite counter tops, tile flooring, hot water tank replacement and painting.
A state-issued contractor license is required for any home improvement job of $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. State law also requires unlicensed contractors to state in all advertising that they are not licensed.
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On the first day of the sting, a suspect was targeted based on a tip from a licensed contractor who claimed the man had hijacked his website. Ryan Kendall Murray of Cameron Park allegedly changed the phone number displayed on the licensee’s website to his own number and misrepresented himself as being the license holder, authorities said. Murray was invited to the sting house where he bid $1,475 to replace a water heater. As a result, he may be charged with a felony for intentionally using a contractor license number that does not belong to him, authorities said. That charge carries a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to one year in state prison or county jail. Murray may also face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license and illegal advertising.
Another suspect, Reuben Joseph Mohammad of Elk Grove, may face a felony charge for fraudulently using his wife’s contractor license number on the second day of the sting operation. Mohammad’s brother previously submitted a complaint to the Contractors State License Board stating that Mohammad was using his license number without permission. Further investigation revealed the Mohammad was ineligible to apply for a contractor license because he is a registered sex offender, authorities said. He was cited after submitting a $3,000 labor bid for new concrete and painting.
Others cited during the sting operation for contracting without a license and illegal advertising:
- Phillip Stewart Fawcett of Sacramento, ceramic and mosaic tile.
- Sidney Melborne Fehn IV of North Highlands, plumbing.
- Dharandar Narain Singh of Sacramento, landscaping.
- James Grady McCue of North Highlands, painting and decorating.
- Brian Keith Hughes Jr. of Elk Grove, painting and decorating.
- Stanislav Belikov of Sacramento, ceramic and mosaic tile.
All those cited during the sting were given a notice to appear in court, authorities said. They are scheduled to appear in Sacramento Superior Court on July 12.
First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. Penalties are more severe with each successive violation. A second conviction carries a mandatory sentence of 90 days in jail.
Contractors State License Board officials note that every state-licensed contractor is issued a pocket card with his or her name and license number on it. In addition to checking the contractor’s license number on the board’s website, www.cslb.ca.gov, consumers are advised to ask for a current photo ID that matches the name on the license.