SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man who participated in a $6 million foreclosure fraud scheme in which he stole the identities of several notaries and forged hundreds of deeds across California pleaded guilty Thursday to multiple felony charges, including rent skimming, forgery, identity theft and conspiracy to commit grand theft.
John Zepeda, 60, agreed to pay restitution and will be sentenced to 12 years in prison on February 21.
Zepeda's brother, David, also is charged in the case but remains at large, Deputy District Attorney Nida Rice said.
The conspiracy, which prosecutors called "huge" and "brazen," involved hundreds of victims in San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, as well as Clark County in Nevada, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, the defendants would hold seminars for people hoping to save their homes from foreclosures.
Authorities said the Zepeda brothers identified properties in foreclosure and acquired title either by forging a quitclaim dead -- which transfers the property into a trust -- or convincing homeowners to transfer the property to them by promising the homeowner they would help avoid foreclosure.
Once they had acquired the title, the Zepedas would rent out the property, prosecutors said.
In order to forestall the foreclosure process and to extend the period over which they collected rent, the brothers also filed bankruptcy petitions, authorities said.
Money was diverted away from the lenders and owners and into accounts, where the cash was used to support the defendants' lavish lifestyle, including the purchase of exotic, high-end cars, prosecutors said.
During a search of a home in San Bernardino where the defendants were arrested last year, investigators seized $335,000 in uncashed checks; a gold Geneva watch; a gold Rolex watch; diamond bracelets and rings; $33,000 in cash; more than $8,000 in silver coins and a Bentley automobile.
A San Diego family is continuing their fight for justice for their son after his accused killer, a twice deported undocumented immigrant, fled to Mexico.
Amid an uptick of shootings across San Diego, on Thursday, community came together to discuss ways to stop gun violence in San Diego neighborhoods.
Crews dousing the smoldering remnants of a roughly 60-acre wildfire near Pala Casino had the burn area 100 percent contained Thursday night.
A terrifying scene played out in La Mesa earlier this week when an eighth grader was chased by a man with machetes on her way to school. The man accused – who allegedly had two machetes as he chased the 13-year-old girl – was shot by police and on Thursday was charged under unusual circumstances.
Imagine being at work, when suddenly your boss demands you stop what you're doing and take a break. In Thursday's Zevely Zone, Jeff's in the East Village with the San Diego Humane Society's first "kitten crash."
Beginning Thursday through July 4, 2018, U.S. veterans and up to three guests may enjoy free admission to SeaWorld San Diego as well as other SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment properties across the country. This new offer joins the ongoing Waves of Honor program that offers complimentary admission to any U.S. active duty military, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman once per year, for the military personnel and as many as three direct dependents.
For four hours on Tuesday, a domestic violence suspect held police off with SWAT snipers positioned on rooftops in a Bay Terraces neighborhood. On Thursday, the man arrested answered to charges in court.
A furnace mishap at a South Bay funeral home briefly sent smoke from a crematorium into the air near the interchange of Interstate 5 and state Route 54 interchange Thursday, authorities reported.
Authorities say a couple from California and a man from southern Nevada man were among five people killed in a fiery three-vehicle crash on a remote highway northwest of Las Vegas.