DA George Gascón Charges Man with Defrauding Homeowner and Workers in Home Remodel

April 11, 2011

CONTACT: Erica Terry Derryck, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167
ADA Seth Steward, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1014

SF DA George Gascón Charges Man with Defrauding Homeowner and Workers in Home Remodel

SAN FRANCISCO – District Attorney George Gascón announced today that Danny Ho, age 52 of San Francisco, was arraigned on multiple felony counts for allegedly posing as a licensed contractor, stealing from his homeowner client and failing to properly compensate the day laborers he hired to do the contracted job.

“We have a legal code for how we do business in this country,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. “That means that homeowners should be able to trust that individuals who hold themselves out to be licensed professionals can legally meet their contractual obligations. And employees shouldn’t have to wonder whether they will be paid for an honest day’s work.”

According to court documents, in February 2010, the defendant entered into a contract with a San Francisco homeowner to perform a remodel at 171 Lee Avenue – to convert an entertainment room into two bedrooms. The homeowner paid defendant over $30,000, but the defendant allegedly abandoned the project before completion and failed to pay wages to three workers on the project. According to court documents, defendant, who was not a licensed contractor, gave the homeowner a business card with another contractor’s license number and business name – without the permission or knowledge of that contractor. Defendant also allegedly demanded from the homeowner a down payment in excess of legal limits and allegedly failed to secure workers compensation insurance.

“The Contractors State License Board looks forward to continuing to work with District Attorney Gascón and his team as they aggressively prosecute these cases of home improvement fraud,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “This case against Danny Ho illustrates the importance of checking the license number on our website or toll free line and calling the telephone number listed by CSLB to verify the person you are dealing with is appropriately licensed.”

Defendant Ho is charged with four felony counts of grand theft, one felony count of misappropriation of construction funds, one felony count of fraudulent use of another’s contractor’s license number, one felony count of false personation, one misdemeanor count of contracting without a license, one misdemeanor count of demanding an excessive down payment, and one misdemeanor count of failing to secure workers compensation insurance.

La Raza Centro Legal also referred complaints to the District Attorney’s Office. The contractor fraud portion of the case was referred by the California Contractors State License Board (CLSB). Lt. Carlos Sanchez of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations led the investigation of this case. Assistant District Attorney Max Peltz is the prosecutor.

“In California nonpayment of wages is stealing – and the state’s Labor Code imposes criminal penalties for wage theft,” said Kate Hegé, La Raza Centro Legal Workers’ Rights Coordinating Attorney. “La Raza Centro Legal applauds the San Francisco District Attorney's office for protecting low-wage workers from wide-spread, unlawful exploitation by unscrupulous employers.”

The defendant was arrested on April 6, 2011 and arraigned in San Francisco Superior Court, Department 9, on April 11, 2011 before the Honorable John Allen. The next court date is April 26, 2011 at 9 am in Department 9 to set the preliminary hearing.

“This case would not have been possible if not for the extraordinary courage of the workers, especially in this challenging economic climate where workers face greater employer retaliation,” said Shaw San Liu, Chinese Progressive Association Lead Organizer. “It also represents many months of collaboration between CBOs and the city, and shows how protecting the public good is most effective when done in collaboration with the community.”

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) protects consumers by licensing and regulating California's construction industry. http://www.cslb.ca.gov/

La Raza Centro Legal is a community-based legal organization dedicated to empowering Latino, immigrant, and low-income communities of San Francisco to advocate for their civil and human rights.

Founded in 1972, the Chinese Progressive Association educates, organizes and empowers the low income and working class immigrant Chinese community in San Francisco to build collective power with other oppressed communities to demand better living and working conditions and justice for all people.