A couple who engaged in a real estate fraud scheme that involved illegally claiming a man’s Norco property and then selling it for nearly $200,000 pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges and were each immediately sentenced to a year of probation.

Brenda Ann Gregory, 54, and her husband, 56-year-old Angel Alfonso Gutierrez, both of Chula Vista, each admitted charges of grand theft and forgery under plea agreements with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

In exchange for their admissions, prosecutors dismissed four related felony charges against the pair.

The plea bargains were announced just as the defendants were set to be arraigned at the Riverside Hall of Justice before Superior Court Judge David Gunn, who certified the terms of the agreements and imposed the sentences stipulated by the prosecution and defense.

In addition to probation, Gregory and Gutierrez will be required to pay victim restitution, though the amount has yet to be worked out by the Department of Probation.

They were arrested in mid-March. Prosecutors said they came under investigation in September 2020 after the owner of a Norco property was notified by the county Assessor-Clerk-Recorder’s Office that a grant deed had been issued for his parcel. The bewildered victim went to the location and found a “for sale” sign there that he knew nothing about.

“D.A. investigators determined that someone had purchased the Norco property, believing it was legitimately for sale,” according to a District Attorney’s Office statement. “That purchase was for $189,000, with a $20,000 deposit and monthly payments of $1,300.”

In a joint investigation involving the DA’s Real Estate Fraud Task Force and the Chula Vista Police Department, the illicit sale of the property was traced to Gregory and Gutierrez, who were found residing in an RV park, prosecutors said.

They were suspected of carrying out additional fraudulent sales in Arizona and Texas, but the Riverside County case did not include charges in connection with those alleged transactions.

Neither defendant had documented prior felony or misdemeanor convictions in Riverside County.

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