Three people have been charged for allegedly enticing consumers to receive energy-efficient improvements to their homes, but the work was never completed, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Pedro De Jesus Diaz, 41, Esfahani Salahi, 28, and Mahsa Karimaghaei, 31, were charged in a 29-count complaint with grand theft, first-degree residential burglary, unauthorized use of personal identifying information, false personation, diverting construction funds and other charges.
“Consumers should be able to participate in programs that can benefit them without being preyed upon by people using deceptive practices,” District Attorney George Gascón said.
“The people who were victimized were especially vulnerable because some were elderly and for many English was not their primary language,” Gascón said. “My office will prosecute those who break the law by exploiting consumers for their own personal gain.”
All three defendants — whose hometowns were not immediately available — have pleaded not guilty. A preliminary hearing date is scheduled to be set Jan. 19.
Diaz ran Bright Energy Inc., a company that offered to install energy-efficient products such as solar panels, roofing and heating or air conditioning units. Salahi and Karimaghaei were company employees who solicited possible customers, according to prosecutors.
The company was enrolled in the state’s Property Assessed Clean Energy loan program. In 2018 and 2019, the defendants are accused of making false and misleading statements to nine consumers to do construction on their homes.
The defendants allegedly used the homeowners’ personal information to apply for loans without permission.
In most of the projects, the work was never finished and the company is accused of keeping roughly $843,000 in loan money, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The case remains under investigation by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board.