CITY HALL — A Santa Monica contractor has been convicted on criminal charges stemming from two remodeling jobs in which he took $18,000 in downpayments but refused to complete the work or return the money, city officials said Thursday.

Hosayn Mandi, owner of New Line Interiors, formerly located on Lincoln Boulevard, was convicted last week and sentenced to three years probation, ordered to pay back the $18,000 and is prohibited from doing any contracting work until he is licensed by the Contractor’s State Licensing Board (CSLB).

Attempts to reach New Line and Mandi were unsuccessful.

Before the conviction, the City Attorney’s Office had already obtained a court order prohibiting Mandi and New Line Interiors from conducting any contractor’s business pending trial, and Mandi has since vacated his rented storefront.

As part of his punishment, Mandi must also perform 80 hours of community service and pay $1,000 to the city’s Consumer Protection fund.

The City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit filed the charges last November as part of an ongoing partnership with the CSLB to crack down on illegal practices by contractors in Santa Monica.

“This case and others we’re filing from the CSLB send a message to unlicensed contractors and consumers,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. “Neither party in an unlicensed contractor case gets what they bargained for. In the long run, it’s cheaper for the contractor to get their license and it’s cheaper for the consumer to insist on licensed work.”

The Consumer Protection Unit urges consumers to know their rights with contractors, including:

n The right to hire licensed contractors;

n The right to check a contractor’s license at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-2752;

n The right to pay only 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a downpayment;

n The right to a written contract that specifies project costs, the downpayment, a payment schedule and start and completion date.

The State Senate Oversight Committee ranks contractor fraud among the top five consumer complaints in California — a problem that costs consumers nationwide more than $100 billion annually.

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