Contractor accused of stealing money from customers - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Contractor accused of stealing money from customers

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KENNEWICK, WA - A Richland contractor is scheduled to be arraigned in a Benton County Court Friday Oct. 20th after trying to steal money from customers. Jesse Scott Espinoza is the owner of Jesse's Custom Concrete but Washington State Labor and Industries says he's not a registered contractor.

He's accused of accepting down payments for two jobs and not actually working. The 38-year-old is facing two gross misdemeanor charges of unregistered contracting and two misdemeanor counts of failing to respond to civil infractions for unregistered contracting. He pleaded not guilty in September to two felony, second-degree theft charges involving these cases. His trial is scheduled for Dec. 11th.

In a press release, Elizabeth Smith the assistant director of L&I Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards says, "It's so important for people to make sure contractors they hire are registered with L&I, hiring a registered contractor gives people a way to get some financial recourse if something goes wrong with the project or the contractor."

Washington state law requires contractors to register with L&I.

They suspended Espinoza's registration on May 2, 2017 after he didn't follow through on a payment plan to pay off thousands of dollars in late premiums of workers' compensation insurance to L&I. According to charging papers, one week after the suspension, he accepted $3,000 from a Richland man and woman for a concrete job. Then according to L&I records, about three weeks after that, an L&I inspector caught Espinoza's workers installing sidewalks in Richland, and issued Espinoza an infraction for unregistered contracting. Within a week of the infraction, Espinoza accepted a $2,000 down payment on June 5 from a Kennewick homeowner for a driveway project.

Despite accepting the two down payments, Espinoza never showed up for work on either project and never returned the money, charging papers said.

Espinoza also owes more than $18,000 to L&I.