A Santa Monica unlicensed contractor has been convicted of criminal charges stemming from two remodeling jobs in which he was accused of taking $18,000 in down payments and then refusing to perform any work or return the money.

Hosayn Mandi, owner of New Line Interiors, formerly located on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica, was sentenced to three years probation, ordered to return the $18,000 and prohibited from performing any contracting work until he is licensed by the Contractor’s State Licensing Board, Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades said.

The City Attorney’s Office had previously obtained a court order prohibiting Mandi and his company from conducting any contracting business pending trial, and he had since vacated his rented storefront, Rhoades said.

As part of his sentence, Mandi must also perform 80 hours of community service and pay $1,000 to the city’s consumer protection fund, Rhoades noted. The city attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit filed the charges last November as part of an ongoing partnership with the state licensing board to crack down on alleged 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 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 State Senate Oversight Committee ranks contractor fraud among the top five consumer complaints in California, a problem it says costs consumers nationwide more than $100 billion annually.