4 From Valley Face Contracting Charges

Four Valley men were charged Tuesday with doing contracting work on buildings without a license, the city attorney said.

They were also charged with unlawful advertising. The criminal offenses carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Sam Ely, 33, of Northridge, Richard Allyn Waterman, 56, of Sun Valley, Jose Francisco Gaviria, 50, of Van Nuys and Renaldy Davila Zapata, 27, of North Hollywood are scheduled to be arraigned in Van Nuys Municipal Court later this month, officials said.

In addition, five men from outside the Valley were charged with the same offenses.

The cases grew out of a sting operation by the Contractors State License Board, which monitors people and companies advertising for contracting work, according to a statement from the city attorney's office.

Undercover investigators answered ads placed in newspapers and posed as the owners of a Pacoima home in need of repairs. The targets of the investigation came to the home at different times Jan. 21 and were arrested after providing estimates for work they said was needed.

The nine advertised their services as roofers, painters and general contractors in publications such as The Times and La Opinion.

Mike Qualls, spokesman for City Atty. Jim Hahn, said the office has worked with the licensing board for years to catch people suspected of doing contracting work without having passed the licensing exams.

"There are usually two groups of people working without a license: those who don't have the skills to be licensed or those who are scam artists," Qualls said.

Homeowners who want to check the status of a person claiming to be a contractor can call the state license board at (800) 321-2752.

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