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Real Estate Agent Pleads Guilty to Stealing Construction Funds

District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Megan Elizabeth Zucaro (DOB 7/11/70), of Thousand Oaks, pled guilty to one felony count of diversion of construction funds. Zucaro was charged with 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 Office Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Zucaro, a real estate agent licensed by the California Department of Real Estate, was 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 so she could obtain a loan to develop the property on his behalf. Zucaro paid nothing to the victim in return for her interest in the property. After being added to the property’s title, Zucaro used it as collateral for a loan with net proceeds of approximately $165,000.

Within 30 days of receiving the $165,000, Zucaro spent the funds on personal expenses completely unrelated to developing the victim’s property. Zucaro is scheduled to be sentenced on July 8, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom 46 of the Ventura County Superior Court. She is expected to be sentenced to 365 days in jail and placed on 60 months of felony probation. Zucaro will also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim and surrender her real estate license.

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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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Woman Charged with Posting Fraudulent Bail

2100704VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Sasha Carrillo (DOB 11/11/85), of Los Angeles County, has been charged with one felony count of recording a false instrument. The charge is the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit acting on a report from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office previously arrested Carrillo’s boyfriend, Shane Michael Spring, for narcotics and weapons offenses. During the investigation, law enforcement
determined Carrillo hoped to gain Spring’s release from the Ventura County jail by posting his bail. Using fraudulent paperwork, Carrillo convinced a bail company that she personally owned a home in La Verne that was in fact owned by Carrillo’s uncle.

Carrillo then signed a deed of trust that made the home collateral for Spring’s bail bond. The deed of trust that Carrillo signed was subsequently recorded at the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office. The bail bond that was fraudulently obtained by Carrillo was then posted with the Ventura County Superior Court resulting in Spring’s release from jail. After Spring’s release, he failed to appear in court, putting the true homeowner at risk of foreclosure. Carrillo will be arraigned on March 13, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. in courtroom 14 of the Ventura County Superior Court. Carrillo currently remains in custody with bail set at $500,000. She faces a sentence of up to three years in jail if convicted.

 

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Career Real Estate Fraud Offender Found Guilty

RojasVENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that James Anthony Rojas (DOB 1/11/57), of Riverside, was found guilty of nine felony counts, including foreclosure consultant fraud, grand theft, and recording false documents by Judge David Worley following a court trial. Judge Worley also found true a special allegation that Rojas caused losses exceeding $500,000. The investigation and prosecution of Rojas was conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

 

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“We Buy Ugly Homes” Franchisee Charged with Attempted Grand Theft

VENTURA, California- District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Santa Clarita resident Cory Evans (DOB 11/07/78), has been charged with two felony counts of attempted grand theft by false pretenses and two felony counts of attempted financial elder abuse. The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, acting on a referral from Ventura County Adult Protective Services.

Evans is a co-owner of HomeVestors, an independently owned “We Buy Ugly Houses” franchise. HomeVestors offers to purchase homes for cash in “as-is” condition. Evans is accused of providing false information to two separate elderly homeowners to induce them to sign contracts for Home Vestors to purchase their homes. Both victims, aged 72 and 76, are Camarillo residents. When each victim attempted to cancel their contract, Home Vestors threatened civil litigation. Evans is scheduled to be arraigned on February 4, 2020, at 9:00 a.m., in courtroom 12 of the Ventura County Superior Court.

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Local Realtor Charged with Income Tax Evasion

District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today the filing of charges against Camarillo resident Debra Elaine Ashcraft (DOB 11/23/57). Ashcraft is charged with one felony count of structuring and five felony counts of income tax evasion. The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and the California Franchise Tax Board.

 

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Husband and Wife Charged in Real Estate Scam

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today the arrests of Riverside County residents James Anthony Rojas (DOB 1/11/1957) and Yvonne Georganna Martinez (DOB 2/14/1953). Rojas is charged with one felony count of foreclosure consultant fraud and six felony counts of recording a false instrument. Martinez is charged with two felony counts of recording a false instrument. The defendants are also charged with special allegations that each caused victim losses in excess of $1 million. The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.
Rojas Martinez

The defendants targeted real estate owned by five senior citizens in Ventura County. The ages of the victims range from 66 to 90 years old. The defendants targeted the victims’ properties with false encumbrances or conveyances that clouded lawful title to each affected property.

The defendants are due in court on June 25, 2019, at 1:30 p.m. in courtroom 12 for an early disposition conference. Both defendants remain in custody. Bail for each is currently set at $1 million. Before posting bail, the defendants will be required to establish that any monies or collateral used to post bail were not feloniously obtained.


The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office is the public prosecutor for the county’s 850,000 residents. The office employs approximately 280 employees including attorneys, investigators, victim advocates, and other professional support staff who strive to seek justice, ensure public safety, and protect the rights of crime victims.

Follow the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office on Twitter @VenturaDAOffice

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