Two men suspected of scamming homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure will be arraigned today in San Bernardino Superior Court on a 45-count criminal complaint.
Prosecutors say Stephen Andrew Easterly, 47, and Emanuel Percival, 36, defrauded at least 25 people with their Fontana business and affected more than $17 million in home loans.
"Basically, they were getting people to try to redo their loans," Deputy District Attorney Michael Fermin said.
The people were on the verge of foreclosure or wanted a lower payment, he said.
The alleged victims reportedly paid between $3,500 and $7,000 to participate in a process they believed would pay off their home loans and save them from foreclosure, according to a news release Monday from the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office.
In the end, they would end up with two outstanding home loans and the houses went into foreclosure, prosecutors said.
Easterly and Percival were arrested Friday when investigators served a search warrant at Fidelity Group Realty, on Cherry Avenue in Fontana.
Both men were being held Monday at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. Bail for Easterly was set at $1 million. Percival's bail was set at $500,000, prosecutors said.
The two refused to enter pleas on the charges Monday at a video arraignment, prosecutors said. However, both men were expected to be in court today for arraignment.
The search warrant was the result of an investigation into fraudulent Substitution of Trustee and Full Reconveyance and Release of Lien documents - which are usually recorded by a bank when a mortgage is paid in full - with the county Recorder's Office.
In this case, Easterly and Percival signed documents as "authorized representatives" of various banks, according to prosecutors. Between the pair, more than 70 fraudulent documents are alleged to have been recorded.
Prosecutors said Easterly also created fictitious checks, mailed them to banking institutions and told victims he was paying off their loans.
Easterly faces 21 counts of forgery and 16 counts of procuring or offering a false or forged document from Oct. 25, 2010, to June 29, according to the criminal complaint.
Percival faces four counts each of forgery and procuring or offering a false or forged document between March 23, 2010, and Nov. 24.