FROM:
Stephen Gibbons, Assistant District Attorney   CONTACT PERSON:
Joseph Reader, Deputy District Attorney
Real Estate Fraud Unit
(408) 792-2689   For Release on April 29, 2003   Confidence Man Sentenced to 5 Years in State Prison and Ordered to Pay $121,600  in Restitution for “Selling” Real Estate Owned by Another.   Charles William White, also known as Gary Johnson, 61, of Hollister, was sentenced to state prison today in the San Martin Courthouse of Santa Clara County Superior Court.    White had previously pleaded no contest to charges of stealing $115,000 from a disabled man.  The victim was a construction worker who had been seriously injured on a job site and is no longer able to work.  The stolen money represented the settlement that the victim received for his injuries.  The victim had invested the money to provide for future medical expenses when White convinced him to liquidate his investments and buy a home for the victim’s family.  White showed three different pieces of real estate to the victim.  The victim decided to purchase a parcel in Gilroy through White.  After signing a purchase contract and giving the money to White, the victim hired other construction workers to prepare the property for the victim’s family to move onto.    Sheriff’s Deputies went to the property to investigate a possible trespassing and learned the victim had a purchase contract.  Further investigation revealed that White did not own any of the properties that he had offered to sell the victim.  The actual owners of the three parcels had never heard of White and none had ever planned on selling their properties.   White also pleaded no contest to 6 counts of laundering the stolen money and admitted to committing the crimes while out on bail for similar offenses in four counties.  He further admitted to being subject to additional punishment of 3 years for having previously spent time in state prison.     White has been victimizing people in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey and Fresno Counties for the last 32 years according to the probation report.  White also showed no remorse for the crimes, made no attempt to pay any restitution and failed to cooperate with authorities in tracing the stolen money.   The District Attorney’s Office described White as a danger to society who would revert to theft and confidence scams upon release from custody.  While in custody, White filed a bankruptcy case and attempted to discharge the debt he owed to the victim for the theft in this case. Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Edward Lee sentenced White to 5 years. This term of incarceration will have to be served in addition to the 8 years and 8 months sentence that White is currently serving for similar crimes in other counties.   The Real Estate Fraud Unit of the District Attorney’s Office investigated the case jointly with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.  The Real Estate Fraud Unit investigates cases of fraud in which real estate is wrongfully taken from victims, money is taken from victims for non-existent real estate or other fraudulent devices, forgeries, or false loan documents are employed in a real estate transaction.   Anyone purchasing real property should establish an escrow with an independent title or escrow company.  The title or escrow company acts as a disinterested third party that holds the money until the real estate is properly transferred to the purchaser.  The title company also provides insurance on the transaction in case the purchase money is stolen or the seller does not transfer the property to the buyer.  No money should be paid to a seller or seller’s agent, other than a token down payment, unless the money goes into escrow and the transaction is insured.  The California Department of Real Estate has information available which would assist individuals interested in buying or selling real estate.   Persons with information regarding financial transactions with Charles William White or with information about other possible real estate frauds can contact the Real Estate Fraud Unit of the District Attorneys Office at 408/792-2639 or Deputy District Attorney Joseph Reader at 408/792-2689.  

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