Joseph Little, 48, a California resident, was sentenced to 27 years, four months in prison for helping defraud nearly a dozen victims through a sophisticated real estate fraud scheme.
Prior to jury selection in the trial, defendant Little admitted an allegation that he was out on his own recognizance on another real estate fraud case on which he was pending sentence.
Deputy District Attorney Clay Peters of the Real Estate Fraud Section said jurors convicted Joseph Little of 40 counts on December 8, 2009. Co-conspirator Dwight Rolland Shelton, 40, was convicted of 51 counts.
Jurors ultimately convicted the defendants of charges including identity theft, preparing false financial statements, forgery, unauthorized use of personal identifying information, offering false or forged instrument for recording, grand theft and conspiracy.
Jurors also found true two enhancements that the value of the property taken exceeded $150,000 and that the defendants committed two or more related felony offenses involving fraud which involved a taking of more than $500,000.
Five other defendants involved in the scheme pleaded before trial.
Over a period of nearly 18 months, Little and Shelton orchestrated a complex scheme that involved a fictitious person and a “straw buyer” who were used to obtain home loans on properties that were either not being sold by the victims, or were not being bought by the alleged purchaser.
This resulted in financial losses to civilian victims and lenders, as well as the temporary loss of title by the homeowner-victims. In total, the defendants received $780,000 in monies obtained through fraudulent transactions.
Prosecutors said the monetary loss to the civilian victims was greater as this figure does not reflect attorneys and private investigators fees and lost work wages. Financial institutions also lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans that were not repaid and, in some cases, in properties that had to be resold at a loss.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry, who presided over the trial, said restitution would be addressed at a later date. Judge Perry sentenced Shelton to 29 years, four months in state prison on January 28, 2010.
The case – investigated by lead Detective Robert Zaun of the Glendale Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit – involved six properties. While only one property was in the City of Glendale, Det. Zaun was given permission by his department to assist the District Attorney’s Office with investigative matters in other parts of the county.
Among the defendants’ victims was an 88-year-old widower with Alzheimer’s disease, whose home was paid in full. He suffered a financial loss of more than $125,000, prosecutors said.