Worst San Jose Contractors of 2010
Beohana Solar Corporation | San Jose, Calif.
After failing to deliver on promises of "free" residential solar systems, Beohana Solar Corporation owner Peter Be - one of last year's National Worst Contractors - was convicted of four felony counts of diversion of construction funds and a misdemeanor of contracting without a license for not having a state solar contractor license. He was sentenced in March to eight months in jail and ordered to pay $178,147 to 62 victims.
According to the California Contractors State License Board, Be collected deposits from homeowners and told them they'd own their solar systems after a 12-year lease. However, the contract stated in small print they'd still owe full price for the equipment after the lease. Many people requested refunds when work never started or after discovering the catch in the contract. Maureen DiRubio of San Jose gave Be a $1,000 deposit.
After weeks passed with no work, DiRubio says she realized she'd been duped. "I'm outraged he could do this to so many people," she says. Santa Clara Superior Court has issued a number of civil judgments against Be involving similar complaints. Be is also listed by the California Secretary of State as acting agent for Sunny Hill Energy Inc. in San Jose.
Interview requests to Sunny Hill and Be's attorney went unanswered. According to the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office, Be is out of jail on probation and there's no condition preventing him from working in the solar field. A notice alerts members to his conviction.
Community Paving | Northern California
Over the past two years, George Stanley traveled throughout California and several other states, claiming to have leftover asphalt to fix potholes or driveways, according to the CSLB, which received 24 complaints.
Stanley made Seattle's Worst Contractor list last year. In November, Stanley pleaded not guilty to five felony counts of grand theft and one misdemeanor count of contracting without a license in Butte County, but no trial date had been set.
Early in 2010, Stanley pleaded guilty to one felony count of elder abuse, one felony count of grand theft and a misdemeanor count of contracting without a license in San Joaquin County and was ordered to pay $102,000 in restitution. He was convicted on similar charges in Yuba County and sentenced to six months in jail and $35,000 in restitution. He's on probation until he starts his jail sentence Jan. 14. A civil case to liquidate Stanley's equipment is pending. A notice alerts members to his conviction.
Monty Hecker of Olivehurst says he paid Stanley more than $10,000. "I could tell as soon as he was done that the pavement was going to break up," Hecker says. Hecker received court-ordered restitution of $28,000 from Stanley. Calls to Stanley's cell phone and his attorney were not returned.
Ronald "Russell" Clawson | Napa, Calif.
"He took everything, and now I have nothing," says Elizabeth Schrader of Napa, after paying Ronald "Russell" Clawson $8,000 for a remodeling job. She says Clawson abandoned the project after gutting her kitchen, leaving her new appliances in the living room and her sink in the yard.
Clawson pleaded no contest to four felony counts including elder abuse, identity theft, grand theft, and fraudulent use of a contractor license number. He was sentenced in February to six months in jail and ordered to pay nearly $50,000 in restitution to three victims, including Schrader, who says she's not received any money.
Calls by Angie's List Magazine to Clawson and his attorney, Jess Raphael, were unsuccessful. Clawson claimed to be the son of a legitimate contractor, using the legal license number of Gary Cole Clawson, owner of Clawson Engineering in Arroyo Grande. It wasn't until Gary's insurance company called with complaints from the victims that he realized something had happened. "You hear a lot about identity theft, but you never think it will happen to you," Gary says.
Schrader says Clawson will continue swindling homeowners. "I believe he won't stop," she says. "Why? He can make damn good money in 20 minutes because he charms you with his sweetness. I bet my life on that one." A notice alerts members to his conviction.
— by Staci Giordullo