City Charges 3 as Unlicensed Contractors

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles city attorney's office filed charges Wednesday accusing three men of working as unlicensed contractors at quake-damaged homes in Chatsworth, Van Nuys and Woodland Hills.

Darren Joseph Pereida, 34, of Northridge, Michael Olivas, 45, of Canoga Park, and Henry (Sonny) Rodriguez, 32, of Tujunga are scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 1 in Van Nuys Municipal Court on charges of making illegal quake repairs, authorities said.

Authorities began investigating Pereida after they received complaints from three homeowners in Chatsworth and Van Nuys that he accepted a total of $4,900 in payments from them to perform repairs, but abandoned the projects without completing the work, said Deputy City Atty. Don Cocek, who is handling the three cases. The repairs included painting a house and rebuilding two brick walls.

An investigator from the Contractors State Licensing Board allegedly found Olivas working at a Van Nuys residence, where the owners had agreed to pay him $3,000 to remove and replace a quake-damaged concrete driveway, Cocek said.

The investigator, who had cited Olivas for working as an unlicensed contractor three previous times in February and March, said Olivas became combative and physically threatened him before Olivas was restrained by members of his work crew, Cocek said.

A "sting" operation resulted in the charges against Rodriguez, who is accused of offering an undercover contractors board agent two different prices to fix the chimney of a Woodland Hills home, Cocek said. One price was given if the city permits were obtained for the job and the other if the work was finished without the permits.

Pereida is charged with three counts each of using a contractor's license number belonging to another person and charging an illegally high down payment, two counts of contracting without a license after a declaration of an emergency and one count each of contracting without a license and illegally advertising as a licensed contractor, authorities said.

Olivas faces one count each of threatening a public officer and contracting without a license after the declaration of an emergency, authorities said. Rodriguez faces one count each of charging an illegal down payment and contracting without a license after the declaration of an emergency.

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