Entries in California (375)

8:00AM

Woman Arrested for Elder Abuse in Real Estate Fraud Scheme

San Bernardino , CA - Investigators from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit arrested Pamela Churchill-Ames, 53, of Jamul, Ca. on Tuesday, November 15, 2005. Churchill-Ames was arrested in the city of San Bernardino for felony counts of financial elder abuse and grand theft.

In April 2004, Mrs. Churchill-Ames allegedly pressured the elderly victims into signing over their property, via a Grant Deed, taking title. The victims, who reside in Yucca Valley, were misled into selling their property to the suspect because of an impending tax auction. Subsequently, the victims only learned the true value of their property after being notified by the San Bernardino County Tax Collector.

Churchill-Ames was booked into the Central Detention Center and bail is set at $100,000.

2:56PM

Arrest in Real Estate Identity Theft case

In a November 16 press release the Corona (CA) Police Dept announced that on October 4, 2005, members of the Corona Police Department Investigations Services Division served a search warrant at 944 W. Sixth St. #133 Corona Ca 92882 (California Direct Reality & Lending Group Inc.). The search warrant was issued as a direct result of a 7 month long investigation into real estate identity theft involving the owner of the California Direct Realty & Lending Group Inc., Ondeya Marks Redeemer. The investigation revealed several instances where loans were submitted to different investors using the unauthorized identities and credit information of the borrower(s)/victim(s).

A subsequent investigation has determined that California Direct Reality & Lending Group Inc. and its employees are not properly licensed with the California Department of Real Estate or the California Department of Corporation Financial Services Division. California Direct Realty & Lending Group Inc. was using the Broker’s license number of Tiger Mortgage & Equities out of Los Angeles CA to submit unauthorized loans for processing. The Broker’s license number is required by mortgage investors (financial institutions funding the loans) as proof that the real estate office submitting the loan is properly licensed.

Click here to see the Riverside County Superior Court records for this matter.

The follow-up investigation also revealed that Ondeya M Redeemer has used 5 stolen identities to purchase/re-finance 4 properties. The estimated loss exceeds $2.5 million. On November 7, 2005, Redeemer surrendered herself at the Corona Police Department. An arrest warrant had been issued for Redeemer with a bail of $2,500,000.00.

Anyone having further information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective Frank Zellers at (951) 736-2330

1:18PM

Man convicted in ID Theft - obtained home loans using stolen id

District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today the District Attorney’s Office has obtained the conviction of Vidal Maldonado (DOB 07/03/39), a resident of Oxnard. Maldonado pleaded guilty to three felonies including identity theft, grand theft, and forgery. This matter was investigated by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. 

Maldonado has admitted his role in a scheme he engaged in with a co-defendant, Angel Velasco (DOB 08/14/39). Maldonado is Velasco’s father-in-law. Velasco and Maldonado obtained two home loans to purchase a house for Maldonado with the victim’s stolen personal identification. Deeds of trust and other documents were forged transferring ownership of the home into Maldonado’s name. The mortgage however, appeared in the victim’s name.

On November 9, 2005, Judge Bruce Clark accepted Maldonado’s guilty pleas. Maldonado faces up to one year in jail and may be placed on probation for five years. Judge Clark ordered that the house that was purchased in this fraudulent scheme be turned over to a receiver and sold. After the mortgages are paid off, any profits from the sale will go to the victim of the identity theft. Sentencing is scheduled for January 9, 2006, at 1:30 p.m. in courtroom 12, following a pre-sentence report. Earlier, co-defendant Angel Velasco was convicted and sentenced to one year in jail and was placed on three years probation.

1:41PM

Ripon minister pleads not guilty to embezzlement

Melanie Turner reports for the Modesto Bee that a Ripon pastor accused of selling his congregation’s church — and the church-owned house where he lived — pleaded not guilty Tuesday in the Manteca branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court.

Rev. Randy Radic’s attorney, Michael Babitzke of Stockton, entered the plea on his client’s behalf. Radic was silent and attentive, wearing a countyissued orange jumpsuit, handcuffs and shackles. Babitzke said afterward that he would not comment on the case until the investigation is complete.

Also Tuesday, Judge Linda Lofthus granted a motion by Chief Deputy District Attorney Patrick O’Hern giving the prosecution the right to examine the source of money should someone try to post bail on Radic’s behalf. Bail remains at $1.5 million. O’Hern said afterward that such a motion is not uncommon in cases such as this, in which law enforcement has not recovered all the money. Officials want to be sure any potential bail money doesn’t come from an illegitimate source, he said.

3:40PM

Suspect in fraud charged

Eric Louie reports for the Contra Costa times that a former real estate broker from Danville was formally charged Tuesday with allegedly defrauding more than $1.5 million over eight years from a 92-year-old Richmond man.

Mark Russon
, 47, was at the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez for his arraignment. He faces 21 counts of elder abuse, seven counts of grand theft, one count of acting as a real estate broker without a license and one count of attempting to record a false or forged document.
His next court date is Nov. 7 for further readiness, a preliminary hearing in which a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for a trial, scheduled to start Nov. 9. He continues to be held in the County Jail in Martinez in lieu of $1 million bail.

Russon, while doing business as Pacific Rim Mortgage in Clayton, told the alleged victim he had clients looking for loans that would be secured by deeds of trust on the borrowers’ residences, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. The victim loaned Russon the money for what he thought were 22 real property loans, but it appears most of the borrowers did not exist, and the deeds of trust were either forged, false or nonexistent. The victim had been getting monthly $1,000 payments until those stopped in 2004. That’s when he became suspicious and consulted an attorney, who called the District Attorney’s Office.  Prosecutors believe Russon has failed to return about $1 million.

1:47PM

Woman arrested in "out from under" fraud case

Investigators from the San Bernardino (CA) County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit arrested Oralia Hidalgo, 42, of Colton on Wednesday, September 28, 2005. Hidalgo was arrested at her residence in the City of Colton on several counts of forgery and filing a forged document with the County Recorder’s Office – all felonies.

In July 2003, Hidalgo allegedly forged the victim’s name on a Grant Deed illegally taking title to a residence in Colton. Subsequently, Hidalgo illegally sold the property for $125,000. Hidalgo was booked into the Central Detention Center where bail was set at $125,000.

1:44PM

Man arrested for forgery on Deed of Trust

Real Estate Investigators from the San Bernardino (CA) County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit arrested Paul Martinez, 54, formerly of Riverside, on Thursday, September 29, 2005. Martinez was arrested in the City of Los Angeles on several counts of forgery and filing a forged document with the County Recorder’s Office – all felonies. In 2002, Mr. Martinez allegedly forged the victim’s name on a Deed of Trust encumbering her property for $25,000.

Additionally, Martinez allegedly reproduced a notary public’s seal in the commission of the crimes. Martinez was booked into the West Valley Detention Center and bail is set at $50,000 .

1:29PM

California Loan officer charged with theft of cash-out checks

District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that the Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit has filed a four-count felony complaint against Andres Zamora Acuna (DOB 7/26/69), of Oxnard. The complaint charges Acuna with three counts of grand theft and one count of forgery arising from Acuna’s actions as a loan agent for Pacific First Bancorp, a subprime lender in Oxnard, between June 2001 and August 2003. Acuna’s bail was set by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Vincent O’Neil at $50,000.


Acuna allegedly failed to tell clients that they were to receive cash following their refinance transactions. He intercepted cash-out checks and deposited them into his own bank accounts by forging endorsements on the checks. Acuna also allegedly requested that his clients give him personal checks payable to appraisers, credit agencies and title companies, and then altered the payee’s name to become or include his own name before depositing those checks into his personal account.