Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 4:46 pm | Overcast 60º


Suspect Arrested in Landscaping Scam

The man is accused of stealing $50,000 for work never completed, including in at least 14 cases in Santa Barbara County

GOLETA — Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department detectives have arrested a man suspected of ripping off more than a dozen people who hired him to do landscaping work.

Gilbert Lee Martinez
Gilbert Lee Martinez

Gilbert Lee Martinez, 40, is suspected of contacting potential tree-trimming clients, quoting a price, taking money upfront and then leaving without ever performing any work.

In the past few months, the sheriff’s department has received several complaints from victims, many of whom are elderly, who had paid as much as $2,000.

On Thursday, authorities in Arcadia detained Martinez for trying to cash a forged check. They discovered a warrant for him in Santa Barbara County.

Sheriff’s detectives traveled to Arcadia, took Martinez into custody and booked him into the Santa Barbara County Jail.

Martinez has been linked at least 14 cases in Santa Barbara County alone. Police believe he has stolen at least $50,000. No money was recovered during his arrest.

He faces charges of fraud, grand theft and fiduciary elder abuse. He is in the Santa Barbara County Jail on $50,000 bail; however, he will remain in jail on a no-bail warrant in San Luis Obispo County.

His arraignment is scheduled for Friday in North Santa Barbara County.

Residents who were a victim of Martinez, or know someone who was, are asked to call Detective Charles Cooley at 805.934.6176.

— Drew Sugars is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

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