Two real estate fraud cases: One person sentenced–another pleas guilty

Kern County resident Gina Marie Hernandez (DOB 9/24/77) was sentenced to two years eight months in state prison for recording a false document. Hernandez, along with Kern County residents Hayser Scarlett Lopez (DOB 10/17/68) and Peggy Ann Soto (DOB 7/9/59), was arrested in October 2014 after an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

The defendants planned and executed a complex scheme to use an unsuspecting victim’s Oxnard residence as collateral for a bail bond which secured Lopez’s release from jail in an unrelated Kern County felony case. Hernandez recruited Soto, who assumed the victim’s identity by executing a fraudulent power of attorney. Soto then impersonated the victim while testifying in a bail hearing in Kern Superior court. After the victim’s residence was fraudulently used to secure Lopez’s bail bond and release from custody, Lopez fled the country. As a result, the bondsman who posted Lopez’s bail sought to foreclose on the victim’s residence, which was nearly lost during foreclosure proceedings. Lopez eventually returned to the United States and was arrested.

Lopez previously pleaded guilty to felony charges of perjury and recording a false document and was sentenced to two years in prison on February 27, 2015. Soto previously pleaded guilty to felony perjury and recording a false document and was sentenced to two years in state prison on July 15, 2015.

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In a second case Oxnard resident Michael McDevitt (DOB 11/24/81) pleaded guilty to felony grand theft, tax evasion and foreclosure consultant fraud. The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).

McDevitt operated a fraudulent loan modification company called Scovis Law Group (SLG) in Thousand Oaks, California. Throughout 2010 and 2011, SLG represented that it was an expert in the field of loan modifications despite the illegality of collecting up-front fees in return for these services. In their solicitations for illegal advance fees, McDevitt and his agents made numerous false representations to victims regarding purported loan modifications. In addition to receiving no actual services, the five named victims’ losses were approximately $29,000.

The FTB investigation determined that McDevitt failed to disclose $67,818 in taxable income for 2009 and failed to report $718,197 in taxable income for 2010. McDevitt is expected receive 16 months in state prison when he is sentenced on September 3, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 26.

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Ventura County District Attorney’s Office

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