No license: Modesto landscape contractor gets prison term for fraud, theft from customers

An unlicensed contractor from Modesto was sentenced last week to seven years and eight months in prison after a conviction on charges of defrauding and stealing from customers.

Adan Contreras Rivas, 42, was on the Contractors State License Board “Most Wanted” list and served a previous prison sentence for contracting without a license.

The state board said unlicensed people doing construction or landscaping work are a threat to consumers because they don’t demonstrate basic qualifications. Some illegally ask for excessive down payments from customers and may not complete the work after receiving money.

Rivas was convicted in Contra Costa County in February on felony and misdemeanor charges of fraud, theft and not having workers compensation insurance.

According to a CSLB news release, authorities filed a criminal complaint against Rivas in March 2022, leading to his arrest. He was released on his own recognizance.

Rivas was the target of a sting operation conducted in October by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Insurance. He was again arrested in November after posing as a licensed landscaping contractor and stealing thousands of dollars from customers, the news release said.

Rivas was previously sent to prison for several convictions including grand theft, theft from a senior citizen and contracting without a license in Santa Clara County.

The state board said that Rivas operated under several business names and often targeted affluent neighborhoods in Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties.