March 31, 2023


Delighting home maniacs

Men sold home they didn’t own three times in real estate scam, Sacramento prosecutors say

Men sold home they didn’t own three times in real estate scam, Sacramento prosecutors say

A Sacramento County jury has convicted two men who sold an Elk Grove home that didn’t belong to them three times to victims who together lost more than $400,000 in the real estate scam, prosecutors said.

Peter Halo and Shaun Smith were found guilty of two counts of felony grand theft with an enhancement for causing a loss of more than $100,000, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office announced in a news release.

Halo, 70, and Smith, 36, were being held at the Sacramento County Jail Monday afternoon as they await sentencing, according to sheriff’s records.

Halo was also convicted of four felony counts of filing a false document, and Smith was convicted of three felony counts of filing a false document, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The real estate fraud convictions stem from the scam that began in March 2013, when Smith targeted the home of a 75-year-old Elk Grove resident, prosecutors said.

The Elk Grove home was pending litigation in probate court, when Halo and Smith sold the home they didn’t own to three sets of victims, according to the news release.

Prosecutors said Halo acted as the real estate agent for the victims and for Smith, who posed as the home’s owner.

The victims believed they were buying the home from its owner. Prosecutors said one victim withdrew all her money from her retirement account to purchase the home, and the two others lost their life savings in the phony sale. The victims never possessed the home; they only received false titles that had no value.

The jury convicted Halo and Smith on Wednesday, and the defendants are scheduled to return to court Aug. 14, when they will be sentenced by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Ernest Sawtelle.

This conviction was the result of an investigation by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, and the case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Sam Nong.