Attorney Trey Wilson - RL Wilson Law

18 December 2008

San Antonio's "Most Wanted" Unlicensed Contractor Shows Up to Court


SAN ANTONIO - State investigators call him the "most wanted" unlicensed contractor in San Antonio. They accuse him of doing unsafe electrical work, taking customers' money and leaving jobs unfinished.

The News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters were there when that contractor finally faced a judge. It's a follow-up to Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila's undercover sting to catch electricians working without a license.

When state investigators helped us put together that hidden camera sting last may, Hugo Guerra was the number 1 person they wanted to catch. Guerra always stayed a step ahead of them, until now.

It was inspectors with the city of San Antonio who finally got Hugo Guerra in court to face charges of doing shoddy electrical work without a license.

Two former customers took the stand against him. One of them was Jesse Negrete.

Last May, Negrete showed us what Hugo Guerra did to his property on the south side. Unfinished wiring, holes in the wall, and an un-grounded breaker box that was a fire hazard. The cost? More than $4,000.

"I'm really glad to see that the state and the city have been following up to prevent this from happening to other consumers," said Negrete.

At the time Guerra worked on Negrete's house, state inspectors had already sent him a cease and desist order, demanding that he stop doing unlicensed work.

When that didn't stop him, investigators with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, asked the News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters to help set up a hidden camera sting to catch unlicensed electrical contractors.

The sting caught about two dozen unlicensed contractors, but Hugo Guerra never showed up to the house.

He did show up at municipal court last week though. Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila caught up to him outside the courtroom and asked him about Jesse Negrete's house.

"He says that you basically took him for a lot of money and didn't finish the job," said Avila.

"No, I don't remember that," answered Guerra.

When asked if he is licensed to do electrical work, Guerra replied, "Yes."

But Guerra is not licensed by the city or state, to which he said, "Alright, well, that's why I'm here."

Guerra argued that as a licensed "apprentice", he was authorized to take on electrical work, but the city says he should have been fully licensed as an electrician, or at least supervised by one, to do the work legally.

Guerra was found guilty of five misdemeanor code violations and fined more than $2,300.

Most important to state and local inspectors though was publicizing Guerra's case, as a warning to San Antonio homeowners.

In Texas, electrical contractors are required to put their license numbers on their trucks, their advertising and any estimates they give you.

To work in San Antonio, they have to register with the city. You can call 207-1111 to check on their license. That number goes to the city's Development Services agency.

Trey Wilson --Named By Scene in SA Magazine As One of San Antonio's Best Real Estate Litigation Attorneys -- September 2008 -- As voted on by peers