Tustin businesswoman charged with scam directed at nuns - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Tustin businesswoman charged with scam directed at nuns

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TUSTIN (CNS) - A Tustin businesswoman indicted for allegedly conning a group of nuns out of more than $250,000 on a real estate deal surrendered to federal authorities Monday.

Linda Rose Gagnon, 57, was indicted Wednesday on three counts of wire fraud stemming from the alleged scheme to defraud the U.S. Province of the Religious of Jesus and Mary Inc., a congregation of Roman Catholic nuns.

Gagnon is the chief executive of Tustin-based Rose Enterprise Inc., which is billed as a company that helps clients handle delinquent mortgages and other real estate deals, according to the indictment. Gagnon has never had a real estate broker or agent license, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Gagnon, who once was enrolled in the religious order's boarding school, visited a Rhode Island convent where the alleged victims lived in November 2008, according to the indictment.

When Gagnon heard the nuns were trying to buy property on Pequena Street in San Diego to be used as a residence for the order's sisters, she told them she could help them with the deal, according to court papers.

Gagnon sent the nuns a letter with bogus letterhead from an attorney to convince them to send $285,000 from their retirement account that she would use to acquire the property, the indictment alleges.

Instead of buying the property, Gagnon spent the money on herself from Dec. 5, 2008, through February 2009, including $2,450 for pet-sitting services, $217 at a nail salon, $448 for lingerie, $32,575 for mortgage payments, $5,400 for rent and $1,523 on her car loan, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges Gagnon lied to the nuns about what she did with the money and refused repeated requests to return the funds.

In March 2009, Gagnon told the nuns she was attempting to close the real estate deal, but the money was tied up in "double" and "triple" escrow, so she needed more cash, the indictment alleges.

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