Unregistered contractor get jail time for cheating customers

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Three Pierce County couples thought they were hiring someone who would improve their homes and property. Instead, they wound up paying thousands of dollars for a big mess. The unregistered contractor who left them with unfinished and shoddy concrete work has been sentenced to 150 days in jail.

Tanner Andrew Smith, 26, has pleaded guilty to three counts of unregistered contracting, a gross misdemeanor. Pierce County District Court Judge Karla Buttorff ordered jail time, but allowed the Tacoma-area man to serve it at the same time as sentences for unrelated theft and escape convictions.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case based on contractor compliance investigations by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

Smith’s convictions stem from his work as an unregistered contractor in 2015 and 2016 for three homeowners in Sumner, Orting and the Summit-Waller area.  At the time, he was doing business as Southern Curbing and Concrete LLC. He also had operated as West Coast Curbing and Concrete.

Each of the homeowners paid Smith thousands of dollars to complete driveway, patio or other concrete projects that he started, but never completed, charging papers said. The little work he did do was so poor that most of the homeowners had to hire other contractors to properly finish the projects.

One couple paid Smith $6,300 to replace a concrete slab for a shop. Smith, who lacked the proper equipment, started the job, “made a mess,” then quit, according to the L&I investigation. The couple paid more than $16,000 to other contractors to repair the damage Smith caused and complete the work.

At Smith’s recent sentencing, the court set a hearing for July 12 to determine how much he must repay victims in the unregistered contracting cases.

Smith also received credit for his time in the Pierce County Jail, where he’s been in custody since mid-February; he had been arrested on a bench warrant for failing to appear at an earlier hearing in the unregistered contractor cases. In addition to facing criminal charges, Smith has received at least six civil infractions from L&I for unregistered contracting. He owes the department more than $16,000 in fines from the infractions.

State law requires construction contractors to register with L&I. The department confirms they have liability insurance, a business license and a bond — requirements that provide some financial recourse to consumers if problems arise.

L&I urges consumers to protect their homes and property by hiring contractors who are registered with the department. People can verify if a contractor is registered in Washington at www.ProtectMyHome.net.

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