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Los Angeles Man Pleads Guilty in Real Estate Scam

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Los Angeles County resident Theodore Brian Childers (DOB 6/24/38) pled guilty to one felony count of Penal Code section 115, recording a false document. The plea was the result of an investigation conducted by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Childers conspired with others to file a fraudulent lawsuit in the Ventura County Superior Court. The lawsuit falsely claimed a Los Angeles property owner reneged upon an agreement to sell her property to one of Childers’ co-defendants, Patricia Jenkins (DOB 1/8/55). Another co-defendant, Andrew Levy (DOB 9/13/58), identified and targeted the property. Levy, a disbarred attorney, drafted the fraudulent lawsuit for Jenkins’ signature. After the lawsuit was filed, Childers filed paperwork with the court falsely claiming the property owner was provided notice of the lawsuit.

Since the property owner was unaware of the lawsuit, she never appeared to contest it. As a result, a Ventura County Superior Court judge issued a judgment awarding the property to Jenkins. Levy and another co-defendant, Delano Bonier Hankins (DOB 2/11/71), then used the judgment to open an escrow in Los Angeles and sell the property to an unsuspecting buyer for $428,600.
Childers will be sentenced on November 30, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom 12 of the Ventura County Superior Court. He is expected to be sentenced to three years in state prison and ordered to pay restitution. Jenkins, Levy, and Hankins previously pled guilty.

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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“We Buy Ugly Homes” Franchisee Pleads Guilty to Attempted Grand Theft

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Corey Evans (DOB 11/07/78), of Santa Clarita, pled guilty to two felony counts of attempted grand theft by false pretenses. The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the 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 provided false information to two separate elderly homeowners to induce them to sign contracts for HomeVestors to purchase their homes. Both victims, aged 72 and 76, are Camarillo residents. When each victim attempted to cancel their contract, HomeVestors recorded liens on their homes and threatened civil litigation.

Evans will be sentenced on September 24, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom 23 of the Ventura County Superior Court. At the time of his sentencing hearing Evans will be ordered to pay restitution to the victims, remove all liens, and cease all civil litigation against them.

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Local Real Estate Agent Sentenced for Stealing Construction Funds

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Megan Elizabeth Zucaro (DOB 7/11/70), of Thousand Oaks, was sentenced to 365 days in jail by Judge Anthony Sabo.

Zucaro had previously pled guilty to one felony count of diversion of construction funds. The investigation and prosecution of Zucaro was conducted by the District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Megan Elizabeth Zucaro (DOB 7/11/70)



Zucaro, a local real estate agent licensed by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE), targeted a 91-year-old victim in Piru. Zucaro first convinced the 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 in return for her interest in the property, currently valued at approximately $2 million. After being added onto the property’s title, Zucaro then stripped the property of its equity by using it as collateral for a hard-money loan. After prepaid interest and loan fees were deducted, Zucaro received net proceeds of $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 was sentenced to 365 days in jail and placed on 60 months of felony probation. She was also ordered to pay $300,200 in restitution to the victim and must surrender her real estate license to the DRE.

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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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