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Santa Barbara Man Accused of Contracting Without a License

After a six-month investigation, the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that it has arrested a man allegedly linked to a string of unlicensed contracting jobs in the area.

Mario Hernandez Serrano, also known as Mario Serrano Hernandez, 52, was taken into custody Tuesday at his Santa Barbara home, and is facing charges of felony diversion of construction funds, felony grand theft, felony tax evasion, contracting without a license, and failing to obtain workers compensation insurance, according to a statement from the office.

Serrano’s arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the Contractor’s State Licensing Board, the Franchise Tax Board and Santa Barbara County District Attorney investigators, the statement said.

Deputy District Attorney Gary Gemberling said that Serrano had been working in the area for a significant amount of time, and is connected to a series of cases in Goleta in homes between Patterson and Fairview Avenues.

The homeowners filed complaints about Serrano with the Contractor’s State Licensing Board, which contacted the District Attorney’s Office. Conducting business as a contractor without a license and insurance is illegal, except under very limited circumstances, he said.

Serious damage to a person’s home and property, as well as a lack of insurance, are concerns with unlicensed contractors, District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in the statement.

Lack of workers compensation is particularly critical because a homeowner may be liable if someone working for the unlicensed contractor is injured while work on the property, she said.

“A lot of times when this happens to a homeowner, they don’t know what to do, they feel foolish, and all they’re thinking about is how to fix the problem,” Gemberling said. “They end up hiring someone else and they don’t report it as a crime.”

Gemberling encouraged any homeowners who are victims of this type of crime to contact him at the District Attorney’s Office at 805.568.2372, local law enforcement or the Contractor’s State Licensing Board.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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