On Contractors State License Board’s Most Wanted list
By Ted Asregadoo, PIO, Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office
On February 8th, 2023, a jury in Contra Costa County found 42-year-old Adan Contrera Rivas of Modesto guilty of multiple felonies and misdemeanors related to unlicensed contracting, fraud, theft, and failing to obtain workers’ compensation insurance.
The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office filed an initial complaint against Rivas in March 2022 following an investigation into his actions that led to his eventual arrest. After his release on his own recognizance, Rivas was arrested again in November 2022 for posing as a licensed contractor in the landscaping and construction industry and stealing thousands of dollars from unsuspecting consumers. Prior to his offenses in Contra Costa County, Rivas had served time in the state prison for several related felony and misdemeanor convictions for grand theft, theft from an elder, and contracting without a license in Santa Clara County.
Deputy District Attorney Natasha Mehta, who prosecuted the case for the People, said: “The defendant defrauded numerous victims out of thousands of dollars. Justice was achieved for those harmed by Rivas in this case, and the jury’s conviction will help to protect consumers in the future.”
Rivas will be sentenced on March 8, 2022, in Martinez, and faces up to 9 years and 8 months in prison.
Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton notes, “My office is protecting consumers in the county by partnering with multiple government agencies like the Contractors State License Board and the California Department of Insurance. This partnership has been effective in conducting undercover sting operations, as well as, investigating unlicensed contractors who fail to obtain workers’ compensation insurance.”
According to the Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board website, Rivas was added to their Most Wanted List in 2015. Born in 1984 he used numerous aliases including Orlando Parras, Adam Contreras Rivas, Adam Rivas Contreras and Juan Rangel. Rivas operated under several business names including Parras Landscaping and Pavers, View Tree Service, High Tech Tree Care, New View Tree Care, New View Tree Service, One Way Tree Service, View Maintenance & Landscaping, View Landscaping & Tree Service, High Tech Tree Care.
Investigators believe Adan Rivas victimized more than two dozen Bay Area families by soliciting landscaping and tree removal services. According to investigators, Rivas usually focused his attention on more affluent neighborhoods, often targeting the elderly. It’s alleged that after reaching an agreement with a homeowner, Rivas would take an excessive down payment and then abandon the job.
When Rivas was added to CSLB’s Most Wanted in July 2015, most of the alleged crimes occurred in the cities of Danville, San Ramon, Alamo, Lafayette, Orinda, and Walnut Creek. In October 2016 this page was updated to reflect that it was believed Rivas was also using the name Orlando Parras of Parras Landscaping and Pavers and victimized homeowners in both Alameda and Santa Clara Counties.
Rivas was arrested on April 19, 2017 in Medford, Oregon, on felony charges of aggravated first-degree theft, first-degree theft, and on his California arrest warrant. He was ultimately charged in Santa Clara County with 25 counts of financial elder abuse, grand theft, larceny, unlicensed contracting, and failure to provide workers compensation insurance. On September 15, 2017, Rivas agreed to a plea bargain and pled guilty to eight of the 25 counts. On November 1, 2017, he reported to San Quentin State Prison to serve a 20-month prison sentence.
Unlicensed contractors pose a threat to consumers by failing to acquire skills and licensure when hired to perform home improvement or construction projects. Some unlicensed contractors illegally require excessive down payments for construction or landscaping projects, and frequently fail to begin or complete projects once they receive money. Consumers are often unaware unlicensed contractors have not completed background checks and usually do not carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees – which increases liability risks to consumers.
California law requires contractors to be licensed in their chosen specialty and to obtain the appropriate insurances, including workers’ compensation insurance. Moreover, contractors are legally required to conduct their business in specific ways, which includes restrictions on down payment amounts. For more information on how to verify a contractor’s license, go to cslb.ca.gov.
01-198386-5 | The People of the State of California vs. Rivas, Adan
Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.