Victor Chen, Deputy District Attorney
Major Fraud Unit and Economic Crimes Unit
For release on December 15, 2011
COUPLE ARRESTED FOR REPEATED LEASE FRAUD
On December 14, 2011, Timothy August and Monica Perretta were arrested and charged with multiple counts of Theft by False Pretenses and Passing Bad Checks. It is alleged that the defendants swindled local landlords out of tens of thousands of dollars in rental income by renting homes with no intention of paying rent and stalling the eviction process for as long as possible. They are suspected of perpetrating this fraud on at least six occasions resulting in a windfall to them of approximately $30,000 in unpaid rent.
Starting in at least 2008, August and Perretta repeatedly perpetrated the same scheme, in which they would answer “Home for Rent” ads. They would meet the homeowner at the rental home, and provide falsified copies of their W-2 Forms, 1099’s, and credit reports to misrepresent their trustworthiness. Believing that the defendants were a creditworthy couple, the homeowner would sign a lease agreement with the defendants, typically for one year. The defendants would give the homeowner a personal check to cover the first month’s rent plus security deposit. The homes they rented ranged from $2,000 to $2,600 per month. A few days later, the rent check would bounce. When the landlord contacted the defendants, they would provide various excuses to delay the eviction process. After a period of unfulfilled promises to pay, the frustrated landlord would start the eviction process and obtain an eviction judgment. However, when the landlord tried to execute this judgment, one of the defendants would file for bankruptcy to stay the eviction. This would buy the defendants an additional six to eight weeks of rent-free living as the case winded its way through bankruptcy court. Eventually, the bankruptcy would be dismissed. But before the landlord could resume the eviction process, the other defendant would file for bankruptcy which caused more delay. By the time both defendants were finally evicted, they would have defrauded the landlord of between four to six months of rental income. As if that wasn’t enough, they frequently rented out rooms in the homes where they were squatting and kept the money for themselves. The police found seven pit bulls living inside their latest rental at the time of the arrest.
The defendants’ next court appearance is December 20, 2011, Department 23 of the Santa Clara County Superior Court. If convicted on all counts, the defendants face a maximum term of 6 years, 4 months of incarceration.