Bradford R. Fenocchio
PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
For Immediate Release
Date: August 10, 2010
Public Information Officer
Assistant District Attorney
CITIZENS WARNED TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS
WHEN LOOKING TO HIRE A CONTRACTOR
A recent case in which an 87-year-old Auburn woman was victimized in a scam has prompted the Placer County District Attorney’s Office and the California State Licensing Board to remind the public – particularly senior citizens -- to take precautions when hiring a contractor for work projects.
In the Auburn case that occurred in January, a 30-year-old Roseville man bilked the elderly woman out of $13,500 for a tree removal project on her property. The man cashed six checks, including four blank checks given by the victim.
The defendant, Leron Anthony Stephenson, was given a one-year jail sentence and must pay back the $13,500 to the family of his victim, who died before the defendant changed his plea to guilty in April, said prosecutor Jim Deslaurier.
Stephenson, who pleaded to theft charges and contracting without a license, was also placed on five years probation and was given a suspended prison sentence of five years and four months when sentenced May 26 in Placer County Superior Court.
The California State Licensing Board, or CSLB, urges citizens to hire only state-licensed contractors on projects of $500 or more for labor and material. A contractor’s license number can be checked online at www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling (800) 321-2752.
Tips recommended by the CSLB include the following: Get at least three bids, get three references for past work from each bidder, review such work in person, make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you completely understand all terms.
Citizens should also confirm that the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
The CSLB urges citizens not to pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less. Do not pay in cash and do not let payments get ahead of the work.
Keep a file of all papers and payments relating to the work and don’t make the final payment until satisfied with the job.
Citizens are urged to watch out for door-to-door solicitations by people offering to do work at a reduced price. An unscrupulous contractor may also push for an immediate decision about work, making it difficult or impossible for a homeowner to get competitive bids, check licenses or review references, the CSLB warns.