SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Las Vegas couple pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony charges stemming from a $3 million insurance scam in which hundreds of seniors in San Diego County and other parts of the state were tricked into buying phony "in-home service agreements" for tasks such as cooking, cleaning and bathing.
Michael Woodward, 50, pleaded guilty to residential burglary, theft from an elder, sale of insurance without authorization and failure to file a tax return, along with an allegation that he stole more than $500,000.
He faces an 11-year-old prison term, with sentencing set for Aug. 8.
Melissa Woodward, 47, pleaded guilty to failure to file a 2006 tax return and will be placed on five years probation when she is sentenced the same day as her husband.
Both defendants remain free after posting $1 million bail.
Judge Laura Halgren told them that they would be responsible for more than $3 million in restitution.
Prosecutors said they have identified up to 250 victims in San Diego County and another 150 to 200 victims in the rest of California. Hundreds of additional victims were located in Texas, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington, said Deputy District Attorney Michael Zachry.
The prosecutor said losses include $1.8 million in San Diego County, $1.2 million in other parts of California, and another $46,700 from other victims.
The Woodwards were arrested at their home in Las Vegas on April 10 and extradited to San Diego.
"The defendants in this case were ruthless and heartless in the way they targeted the elderly and sold them fake insurance policies," District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said when the Woodwards were arrested April 10 at their Las Vegas home.
The defendants would target the elderly at their homes, telling them that for a prepaid annual fee, they would have access to an unlimited amount of non-medical services such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, laundry and shopping. To receive services, Michael Woodward told the victims they should call him and provide a doctor's note, prosecutors said.
In reality, the offer was a sham, according to authorities, who said Woodward and his wife were the only employees of the company and were not able to provide the in-home services he promised. The most he did included paying a third party to provide the requested services, or reimbursing seniors for the expense of acquiring services on their own, prosecutors said.
Inexpensive claims were often paid, but when victims made claims that were more expensive, Michael Woodward would not return phone calls and would reject the claim, according to prosecutors. The defendant also routinely returned to victims' homes to collect additional premiums, well beyond the original cost he quoted for the plan, prosecutors said.
The Carlsbad City Council on Tuesday denied the Planning Commission’s approval for a liquor license at K1 Speed, the indoor go-kart racing company, but did approve a restaurant.
The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday warned U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations in those areas.
A federal judge who has been a frequent target of President Donald Trump's scorn on Tuesday urged a quick trial for a Mexican man who had been shielded from being deported from the U.S. and claims he was wrongly expelled.
Solarte homered and drove in a career-high six runs, Austin Hedges also went deep and the San Diego Padres beat the St. Louis Cardinals 12-4 on Tuesday night.
A 9-year-old boy who was the subject of an Amber Alert in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties after being abducted by his father, who was suspected of first killing the child's mother, was located safe Tuesday.
Four community meetings will be held in San Diego to take public input on selection of a new police chief, the city announced Tuesday.
Many watchers of Monday's solar eclipse may have glanced at the sun without proper eye protection, if only for a brief moment. This can be dangerous, as looking directly at the sun can cause eye damage.
Signs discouraging people from feeding birds are being installed in four locations along San Diego Bay and Imperial Beach, the Port of San Diego announced Tuesday.