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Repeat Real Estate Fraud Offender Sentenced to Prison

RojasVENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that James Anthony Rojas (DOB 1/11/57), of Murrieta, was sentenced to 13 years 8 months in state prison by Judge David Worley. The sentence imposed was the maximum allowed by law. Rojas had previously been found guilty of nine felony counts, including foreclosure consultant fraud, grand theft, and recording false documents following a court trial in January. The investigation and prosecution of Rojas was conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Rojas targeted real estate owned by five senior citizens in Ventura County. Victims ranged in age from 69 to 90 years old. Using various schemes, Rojas targeted victim properties with false liens and deeds that clouded lawful title to each affected property. Rojas swindled one elderly victim by convincing him to sign a deed outside of escrow for property Rojas promised to purchase for $1.8 million. Rojas then recorded the deed without paying the victim anything in return. Rojas has prior convictions for real estate fraud, including grand theft, forgery, and recording false documents. He currently has similar charges pending against him in Los Angeles and Alameda Counties.

In addition to his 13-year 8-month prison sentence, Rojas was also ordered to pay victim restitution and fined $500,000 by the court.

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Local Realtor Sentenced for Income Tax Evasion

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Debra Elaine Ashcraft (DOB 11/23/57), of Camarillo, was sentenced to 180 days in the Ventura County jail for income tax evasion. The charges were the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and the California Franchise Tax Board.

Ashcraft structured payments and bank deposits of real estate commissions she earned to avoid triggering mandatory bank reporting requirements in order to conceal her income from tax authorities. The law requires banks to report transactions exceeding $10,000. She also failed to file California income tax returns for the tax years 2013 through 2017.

Ashcraft was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $78,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board and placed on formal felony probation for 60 months.

 

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Real Estate Agent Charged with Grand Theft and Money Laundering

Zucaro Booking PhotoVENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today the filing of a criminal complaint against Megan Elizabeth Zucaro (DOB 7/11/70), of Thousand Oaks, charging one felony count of grand theft, one felony count of diversion of construction funds, and one felony count of money laundering. The investigation and prosecution of Zucaro was conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Zucaro, a real estate agent licensed by the California Department of Real Estate, is accused of misappropriating approximately $165,000 in loan proceeds. Zucaro convinced a 90-year-old victim to give her a 50 percent interest in his property in order to obtain a loan to develop the property on his behalf. Zucaro paid nothing in return for her interest in the property, which has an estimated value of $2 million. After being added on to the property’s title, Zucaro used it as collateral for a loan with net proceeds of $165,000. Within 30 days of receiving the $165,000, Zucaro allegedly spent these funds on personal expenses unrelated to the victim’s property development.

Arraignment is scheduled March 5, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom 12 of the Ventura County Superior Court. Zucaro is currently in custody with bail set at $500,000. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 3 years 8 months in prison.

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