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Cocos fire-area sting nabs 10 alleged illegal contractors

The Contractors State License Board reports it has arrested 10 unlicensed contractors in the area of the Cocos fire in San Marcos last month.

The arrests came as a result of an undercover sting operation that took place Wednesday in the Coronado Hills area of San Marcos.

The operation was jointly conducted by the CSLB Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) and task force partners from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office’s Insurance Fraud Division, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Insurance.

During the operation, SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for wildfire repairs and home improvement projects that included rebuilding a gazebo destroyed by the wildfire, exterior painting, and installing driveway pavers.

The CSLB said while working in a disaster area without a contractor's license could have resulted in felony charges, since the unlicensed contractors were found not to have specifically targeted wildfire victims, they, with one exception, would only be charged with a misdemeanor counts.

The one suspect who faces felony counts is David Hargrove, of San Diego. Hargrove was targeted for the sting after CSLB cited and fined him $2,000 earlier this year for contracting without a license.

Hargrove allegedly took more than $21,000 from an active duty sailor for a home remodeling and addition project, and then abandoned the job before completing it. In addition, after allegedly bidding $6,000 at the sting to rebuild a burned-out gazebo, deputies arrested Hargrove and reportedly found a bag of prescription pills that were not prescribed to him. That earned him a trip to jail and a pending charge of illegal possession of a controlled substance along with other charges.

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