ICYMI: Man gets 7 years in prison for posing as a landscape contractor, stealing funds from clients

May 8, 2023 -  By

A judge sentenced a Modesto, Calif., man on California Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) most wanted list, to 7 years and 8 months in state prison for unlicensed contracting charges.

A Contra Costa County judge sentenced 42-year-old Adan Contreras Rivas to state prison after being convicted in February of multiple felonies and misdemeanors related to unlicensed contracting, fraud, theft and failing to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. 

The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office filed an initial complaint against Rivas in March 2022 following an investigation into his actions that led to his eventual arrest. He was released. CSLB invited Rivas to a sting in October 2022 with the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Insurance targeting unlicensed contractors. He didn’t and sent his parents instead to ask for a bid. This assisted investigators in contacting Rivas. 

Rivas was arrested again in November 2022 for posing as a licensed contractor in the landscaping industry and stealing thousands of dollars from unsuspecting consumers. Before his offenses in Contra Costa County, Rivas served time in state prison for several related felony and misdemeanor convictions for grand theft, theft from an elder and contracting without a license in Santa Clara County.

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2 Comments on "ICYMI: Man gets 7 years in prison for posing as a landscape contractor, stealing funds from clients"

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  1. Paul Chaney says:

    The arrest of Adan Contreras Rivas is little comfort to those of us who are ISA Certified Arborists® who actually follow industry standards, best management practices, and the professional Code of Ethics required of the credential. For the last 31 years (since 1992), the state of California has licensed tree contractors in Class C-49 who verify 3 years’ experience and pass a test on laws and regulations. There has never been a test for skills of knowledge. Since then, legally-licensed D-49 contractors have perpetrated many millions of dollars of damage to their clients’ trees. And the State of California has been complicit in this fraud upon the consumers of tree service by implying that their licensees are actually qualified to perform the services for which they are licensed.

    In addition to the meaninglessness of the license itself is the failure of the CSLB to enforce the law regarding unlicensed contracting (which is legal up to $500). Dozens of unlicensed tree businesses operate multiple millions of dollars worth of equipment that cannot possibly be supported by work under the legal limit. And that’s just in my local neighborhood.

    Another huge travesty is what public entities do to the publically-owned trees in their charge. So-called public servants and public works contractors are damaging taxpayer-owned trees with taxpayer money. And the worst thing is that ISA Certified Arborist®-owned companies are ignoring industry standards, best management practices, AND their own Code of Ethics in doing this damaging work.

    • Derrick Schnur says:

      I’ve been screaming all of the same exact charges here in Arizona for 23 of my 36 years in the industry. Then someone had the nerve to ask me what I was complaining about. They told me I was a fool for complaining about these problems because of all the work it was creating for me. I said, “I don’t want that sort of work.” What really pisses me off is the fact that so many customers are getting shafted by both unlicensed and licensed workers who claim to be professionals and yet they have no skills or hands-on knowledge. So they end up destroying the customer’s tree by improper pruning techniques. Some I cannot fix. No one can. It has to be replaced.

      Paul, I think that every state has this problem to some degree, and it has only gotten worse over the coarse of time. You’re not alone in your frustration. It gives me comfort to know that guys like Rivas are getting spooned by their cell mates. I often wish to have the satisfaction of being the person to do it…. I’m glad you spoke up and said what has needed to be said for far too long. Thank you. Bravo…..