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Santa Rosa fire damage

An aerial view shows the devastation of the Coffey Park neighborhood after a wildfire swept through it in Santa Rosa.

Marcio Jose Sanchez

A Napa man, Jeffrey Edward Reno, is one of more than a dozen unlicensed contractors facing potential criminal charges stemming from what local and state authorities said were attempts to defraud Santa Rosa residents looking to rebuild homes destroyed in October's wildfires.

In all, 13 unlicensed contractors, all men, were caught up in a sting conducted Jan. 27 at a burned out home in Santa Rosa.

Undercover state investigators posed as fire victims looking to rebuild their home, the Contractors State License Board said in a news release Friday.

The suspects were detained by CSLB investigators and released from custody while the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office considers the evidence and decides whether to advance charges, said Rick Lopes, CSLB's chief of public affairs.

The sting started when investigators responded to ads posted on Craigslist offering services for framing, carpentry, electrical work and plumbing for fire victims. Investigators invited workers to a home, where they then bid on jobs, the contractors board said. 

The 13 men detained in the sting face the potential felony and misdemeanor charges. 

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On Monday, Reno said he was not intending to defraud anyone. Reno said he is an experienced plumber who is in the process of obtaining his contractor's license. At the time of sting, he was hoping to find work in Sonoma County. 

This story has been modified since first posting to include Reno's response.

The Press Democrat