Unlicensed contractor ordered to pay $12K

Ernesto De La Cruz

SIERRA VISTA — A local man who was the subject of four investigations by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC) in five years has been ordered to pay more than $12,000 to customers who filed complaints about his work.

Ernesto De La Cruz of Sierra Vista entered a guilty plea April 17 to one count of contracting without a license, a Class One misdemeanor. His plea was accepted by Justice of the Peace Tim Dickerson, who ordered the 43-year-old to pay $1,875 in fines and $12,045 in restitution by Oct. 15.

A sentence review hearing is set for July 9 for Dickerson to see what strides De La Cruz has made with the court-ordered payments. The judge could have sentenced De La Cruz to the county jail for up to six months.

Court records show De La Cruz was contracted in May 2017 to install a 40-by-50-foot concrete pad at a Sierra Vista home. He was paid $4,740 of his $9,480 bid before the customer contacted the ROC about poor workmanship.

“It cost the homeowners $6,020 to have the inferior pad demolished and removed,” ROC Inspector Joy Dalestol wrote in the Nov. 9 criminal complaint.

All four complaints against De La Cruz came from southern Cochise County, according to ROC spokesman Jim Knupp. In some of the cases, he presented himself as working under a friend’s ROC license.

“AZ ROC reminds the public that it is not possible to work under another individual or entity’s license without being an actual employee of that entity,” Knupp said. “De La Cruz has never been a licensed contractor in the state of Arizona.”

De La Cruz is the third person convicted this year through ROC investigations in Cochise County.

In February, Robert L. Harnage was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to felony charges of theft and fraudulent schemes. He did business in Cochise County through Pinnacle Property Management, Classic Home Restoration LLC, and Home Improvement Specialist.

“In total, AZ ROC investigated 12 complaints against Harnage since 2007 and found he took over $103,141 from Cochise County property owners while failing to complete or completely abandoning the project,” Knupp said at the time.

The third person convicted in Cochise County connected to an ROC case is Sandee Harnage, who was charged with her husband. She was sentenced in December to three years supervised probation.

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