REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) – A 37-year-old actor from Southern California has been charged with multiple felonies for defrauding a Redwood City homeowner who had defaulted on her property taxes last year, San Mateo County prosecutors said.
Justin Rodgers Hall, of Van Nuys, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of filing a false document, grand theft, money laundering, burglary, elder abuse and an aggravated white collar enhancement, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
He is accused of defrauding a 66-year-old victim who defaulted on her property taxes at her home in Redwood City that is valued between $1.5 and $1.7 million, prosecutors said.
A few weeks before the county tax collector was going to put the property up for auction, Rodgers Hall's co-defendant Tonia Miller, a licensed real estate agent and 33-year-old Studio City resident, took the victim to an Applebee's on July 23, 2018.
Miller allegedly bought the victim two margaritas and offered her a $500,000 reverse mortgage with the ability to live on the property until her death, according to the district attorney's office.
Miller gave the victim $1,000 in cash and had her sign a grant deed in favor of Rex Regum LLC, which is solely owned by Rodgers Hall. The deed said that the victim had been paid $800,000 for the property, but she said she never received the money and that she didn't know she was signing over ownership of the property, prosecutors said.
Rodgers Hall recorded the grant deed later that same day and paid the delinquent property taxes. The county recorder's office reported the sale because the price was so far below market value, according to the district attorney's office.
After an investigator interviewed Miller about her role in the transaction, she called the investigator back and said she had "cleared everything up" with the victim, prosecutors said.
The investigator contacted the victim, who said that Miller gave her another $1,000 in cash and upped the purchase price to $600,000. On Aug. 22, Rodgers Hall then sold the property to a third party for $997,000, prosecutors said.
Nine days later, Miller went to the home with a U-Haul and tried to get the victim to move out of the property. She also brought a real estate agent with her to "help" the victim find a new property to buy in Auburn, prosecutors said.
The real estate agent became suspicious and reported the case to Redwood City police. Officers arrived and ordered Miller to leave. The third party buyer is now working to evict the victim from the property, and Rodgers Hall has spread the proceeds from the sale through various bank accounts.
Rodgers Hall made his initial appearance in court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to all charges. Bail was set at $1.1 million and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 28, prosecutors said. His defense attorney Laura Robinson was not immediately available for comment.
Miller is not in custody and has not been arraigned, Wagstaffe said Wednesday morning.
Wagstaffe said the district attorney's office launched a unit focused on real estate fraud in 2017.
"They've been making cases like this," he said. "There are lots of predators out there."
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