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 local war hero is about to be laid to rest. Retired Navy Captain James "Duffy" Hutton spent years of his service as a prisoner of war in Vietnam before he settled down here in San Diego.
Sunday marked day two of the government shutdown - and with the work week beginning Monday - thousands of employees may not go back to work.
Temperatures are expected to rise slightly on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, but will remain cooler than normal.
A motorcyclist was suspected of drunken driving after causing a late-night car crash in Pacific Beach, police said Sunday, and hours later, a second crash occurred in the intersection while police were still investigating.
The San Diego County Planning Commission voted 6-1 last week to recommend that the County’s Board of Supervisors approve the County’s revised Climate Action Plan, with some modifications.
John Coleman, a long-serving San Diego weatherman and founder of The Weather Channel, has died at the age of 83.
Several dogs were taken into the custody of San Diego County and put down, after a Lomita woman reported that her six dogs were attacked and some killed by a group of pit bulls.
Thousands of people marched through downtown San Diego and San Marcos in the second annual Women's March Saturday. The San Diego event began at 10 a.m. at the downtown Waterfront Park on Pacific Highway, while the North County event began at 11 a.m. at Palomar College.
Thousands of people marched through downtown San Diego and San Marcos in the second annual Women's March Saturday. The San Diego event began at 10 a.m. at the downtown Waterfront Park on Pacific Highway, while the North County event began at 11 a.m. at Palomar College. The two marches were held in conjunction with other marches across the country.
The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, which prompted the closure of many federal operations, such as national parks and monuments and that included the shutdown of Cabrillo National Monument.