A husband and wife have been charged with stealing over $100,000 from an elderly woman with the assistance of a notary public. Christina Espinosa Aldana, 32, Garden Grove, California; Thalia Lugo-Lainez. 37, Garden Grove, California; and Willmar Lainez, 44, Anaheim, California were each charged with three felony counts of filing a false document and three felony counts of forgery with sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, property loss over $65,000 and theft over $100,000. Lugo-Lainez and Lainez are also charged with two felony counts each of grand theft, two felony counts of theft from an elder, and two felony counts of identity theft. Aldana is also charged with three felony counts of perjury by declaration.
Aldana is a registered notary public certified by the California Secretary of State. She is also employed in a clerical position by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), but does not provide notary services to OCDA.
Between November 7, 2008, and January 1, 2009, Lugo-Lainez and Lainez are accused of living with the elderly victim, the maternal grandmother of Lugo-Lainez, and forging her name on a second mortgage on her home in Garden Grove, California. Aldana is accused of violating her position of trust as a notary public and knowingly submitting and verifying the false documents. Aldana, Lugo-Lainez, and Lainez are each accused of forging the victim’s signature and information on documents to secure a second mortgage on the victim’s home. Lugo-Lainez and Lainez are accused of taking the money received from the second mortgage and depositing it into their own personal bank accounts, resulting in the victim losing over $75,000.
Additionally, Lainez and Lugo-Lainez are accused of stealing the victim’s personal identifying information in 2014, in order to gain access and control over the victim’s primary bank-account. Lainez and Lugo-Lainez are accused of stealing over $40,000 from that account for their own personal use.
When the victim stopped receiving bank statements in 2014, she contacted the bank and discovered the identity theft. She immediately reported the identity theft to Garden Grove Police Department, who investigated this case and subsequently arrested the defendants. The victim subsequently passed away in June 2014.
If convicted, Lugo-Lainez and Lainez face a maximum sentence of 11 years and four months in state prison, and Aldana faces a maximum sentence of nine years and four months in state prison. Aldana is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, August 3, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-12, West Justice Center, Westminster, California. Lainez is scheduled to be arraigned on August 5, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-12. Lugo-Lainez remains a fugitive.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.