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The California underground economy of unlicensed contractors seems unrelenting in the state’s battle to require licensure and insurance.

Jose Valdez, age 41 of Seaside, pled guilty to one felony count of fraudulent use of a contractor’s license in violation of Business and Professions Code section 7027.3 and one misdemeanor count of failing to secure workers’ compensation insurance in violation of Labor Code section 3700.5. Valdez was doing business as Angel Valdez Landscaping. The defendant will be sentenced by the Honorable Larry E. Hayes on November 4, 2014. Based upon his plea, Valdez was found in violation of probation of a 2010 case involving similar conduct.

On March 17, 2014, Contractor State License Board [CSLB] Investigator David Leary discovered Valdez’ employees working on a landscape remodel at a small condominium association in Seaside. Valdez had informed the association that he was a licensed contractor having been in business for twenty years. The project had been in the planning stage for several years and the association had gone through a bidding process ultimately accepting the defendant’s bid.

Investigator David Leary recognized Valdez from a prior case in 2010 that was prosecuted. The defendant admitted using his business license number as he did not have a contractor’s license. The defendant also admitted to having employees but did not have workers’ compensation insurance.

Fraudulent use of a contractor’s license has a penalty of sixteen months, two or three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, all employers are required to secure workers’ compensation insurance for their employees so that there is an assurance of adequate medical coverage and other benefits for employees for any work-related injuries that may occur. Failure to secure workers’ compensation insurance has a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to double the amount of the premium owed as a fine payable to the California State Treasury for the Uninsured Employers Fund. Homeowners can check to see if a contractor is licensed by going to the CSLB website..