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Contractors: Get the License

California is continuing its crackdown on unlicensed landscape contractors as 12 have recently been busted by the Contractor's State License Board.

Although most states do not require landscape contractors to carry state licenses to operate a business, it would behoove these business owners to at least follow local statutes as sound business practice.

For landscape contractors in the states that do require states licenses - Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, North Carolina, Nevada, New Jersey and Oregon - a word of advice, get the license.

Recently in California, investigators from the Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) and the Kern County District Attorney's Office (DA) workers' compensation fraud unit caught up with an unlicensed, uninsured Bakersfield tree-trimming operation for the third time this year.

Continuing to put his employees and property owners at risk, 23-year-old Francisco Carrillo Aguilar, of Bakersfield, was caught today by investigators who were tipped off to his ongoing illegal activity by a local resident who found a flyer advertising ''The Seasons Tree Service.'' The homeowner checked CSLB's website for the status of the contractor license, and instead found CSLB's news release about Carrillo Aguilar's September 26, 2011 conviction. The homeowner promptly notified CSLB's Bakersfield office.

Carrillo Aguilar was caught the first time for taking tree-trimming jobs without a license and without carrying workers' compensation insurance on March 19, 2010. His sentence included a work release program. Shortly after his work release program for that offense ended, Carrillo Aguilar was caught again by SWIFT and the DA's workers' compensation fraud unit in a July 2, 2010 sting and pleaded no contest to those charges on September 26, 2011. At that hearing, Carrillo Aguilar was sentenced to three years' probation and fined $5,000 for a second conviction on charges of contracting without a license and failure to carry workers' compensation insurance for his employees.

The states in green offer a state contractor license in landscape contracting or closely related field.

Another California case saw the bust of 11 unlicensed contractors who allegedly offered to do home modifications in Murrieta in a sting operation conducted by the CSLB. According to the CSLB, decoys solicited bids from prospective contractors, seeking cost appraisals for various projects, including landscaping, tree-trimming, painting, tiling and cabinetry.

Those who couldn't provide licenses were issued misdemeanor citations. The defendants are scheduled to make court appearances in January. In California, any contracting job valued at more than $500 requires a license. Unlicensed contractors can perform work that's less than $500, but they must disclose that they're not licensed in ads, according to state law.

If you are a landscape contractor with a licensure tale to tell, please send a note to and note in the email the state where your business is located.

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December 9, 2019, 10:21 am PDT

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