Thursday, November 18, 2010
SAN DIEGO One of two brothers charged in connection with a $6 million foreclosure fraud scheme in which they allegedly stole the identity of several notaries and forged hundreds of deeds in California will stand trial Jan. 7.
John Zepeda, 59, is charged with 106 felony counts, including identity theft, forgery, grand theft and rent skimming. He is jailed in lieu of $5 million bail.
Judge David Danielsen also scheduled a status conference for Nov. 30.
In a previous hearing, San Diego County District Attorney Investigator James Motz testified about interviews he conducted with people who allege they were victimized by Zepeda and his 57-year-old brother, David.
David Zepeda, who is not in custody, faces the same charges and is being prosecuted separately.
Both defendants face up to 72 years in prison if convicted.
The brothers' alleged conspiracy involved more than 300 victims and dates back to 2006, prosecutors said.
In San Diego, more than 40 alleged victims have been identified, with losses totaling about $100,000, said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
The defendants allegedly identified properties in foreclosure and acquired title either by forging a quitclaim deed or convincing homeowners to transfer property to them in exchange for help saving their homes. The Zepedas then allegedly rented out the property and stalled the foreclosure process by filing bankruptcy petitions.
The money from the renters was diverted away from the lenders and homeowners, and into the defendants' pockets, prosecutors allege.