Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Tuesday that a jury has found Walden Williams guilty of real estate fraud for stealing more than $200,000 from victims who purchased lots on land southeast of Santa Maria.
Williams was convicted of two felony counts of grand theft, two felony counts of sale of land without a public report and one misdemeanor count of false advertising.
The case involved Williams selling real estate lots in the Dominion Road Ranch Subdivision between 2004 and early 2007 by falsely assuring buyers that the lots came equipped with residential water, according to Deputy District Attorney Manuel Almada.
At least four victims were involved in the case, but several others could not prosecute because the sales occurred outside the statute of limitations, Almada said.
The jury found the felony counts were related and involved fraud.
Williams, who was residing in Huntington Beach, is now residing in Oregon and claims to have no money to pay fines, Almada said.
“I think these people were clearly defrauded,” Almada said, adding that he was pleased with the verdict.
He said that one victim, who paid more than $500,000 for a property, still can’t build a home because he can’t afford to drill a well.
“Those who commit the crime of real estate fraud are thieves, who steal not only the victims’ money, but often their hopes and dreams,” Dudley said in a statement.
Williams, who is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 7, faces up to eight years and four months in prison.