In Ventura, California, the Ventura County Star
- A Camarillo man was sentenced to 10 years in state prison after pleading guilty last month to numerous felonies, Ventura County prosecutors said on Friday [February 24].
Albert Solano, 50, pleaded guilty on Jan. 24 to two counts of first-degree residential burglary, eight felony counts of elder theft, a felony count of obtaining money by false pretenses, a felony count of attempted grand theft by false pretenses, 15 counts of filing a fraudulent instrument and three counts of insurance fraud, prosecutors said .
His case was handled by investigators from the [California] Contractors State License Board, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation and the Ventura County District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation, prosecutors said.
They said Solano ran a fraudulent plumbing business since 2010 that targeted the elderly. They also said he advertised a $49.95 drain-clearing special as a bait and switch tactic to get access to victims' homes.
Once there, he fabricated more plumbing problems, prosecutors said, and used scare tactics to induce victims to sign contracts for thousands of dollars. He would then arbitrarily raise the cost of work, often changing contracts after they'd been signed.
When victims disputed the charges, he would send them to collection agencies and file fraudulent mechanic's liens on their homes.
"The total amount of fraudulent liens exceeded $309,000," prosecutors said.
Ventura County Superior Court ordered Solano to pay full restitution to 31 victims.