Saturday, July 23 , 2016, 6:34 am | Fair 64º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube
 
 
 
 

Local News

Woman Gets Two Years in Jail for Real Estate Fraud

Jessica Lynn Orca of Santa Maria pleaded no contest to 15 felony counts

A Santa Maria woman will spend two years in jail after pleading no contest to 15 felony charges related to real-estate fraud, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

Jessica Lynn Orca entered the pleas Thursday in Superior Court, said Deputy District Attorney Manuel Almada.

Investigators with the district attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit alleged that Orca offered to perform loan-modification services for clients, and collected fees in advance in violation of state law, Almada said.

She also required clients to provide her with money orders and cashier’s checks that she told the victims would go directly toward house payments and foreclosure services, Almada said, but instead embezzled the funds for her personal use.

Orca pleaded no contest to 12 felony counts of grand theft, three felony counts of engaging in prohibited practices of a foreclosure, and two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully collecting advanced fees, Almada said.

A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is treated like a guilty plea for purposes of punishment.

Superior Court Judge Edward H. Bullard indicated he would sentence Orca to seven years in state prison.

However, because of the state’s new public-safety realignment law, Orca likely will serve two years in Santa Barbara County Jail and five years under supervised release, Almada said.

In an unrelated case, two people pleaded no contest Friday to charges related to loan modification/foreclosure assistance fraud.

Franklin David Marquez pleaded to one felony count of loan-modification fraud, while Siszy Aragon pleaded to a misdemeanor count of being an accessory after the fact, said Deputy District Attorney Gary Gemberling.

The pair were accused in a scheme that involved contacting homeowners in distress and offering to save their homes from foreclosure for a substantial fee, Gemberling said.

The scam involved setting up phony trust funds, which the victims are told to make their mortgage payments into while attorneys supposedly are working to prevent the foreclosures.

Eventually the lenders do foreclosure on the homes, after the victims have paid thousands of dollars to the fraudulent companies, Gemberling said.

“Unfortunately, many of the victims of these scams do not know that crimes have been committed against them,” said District Attorney Joyce Dudley. “Additionally, people who are in financial trouble and are in the process of losing their homes may not be able or willing to come forward and report these activities.

“This is the ‘perfect storm’ that makes it easier for scammers to take advantage of them.”

Dudley said that anyone who has paid an upfront fee for foreclosure assistance or loan modification should contact law enforcement or file a claim on the district attorney’s website.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >