Orange County Superior Court. Photo by John Schreiber
Orange County Superior Court. Photo by John Schreiber

A 40-year-old real estate salesman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to multiple charges of grand theft in connection with an alleged short-sale scheme prosecutors say ripped off several Orange County homeowners of more than $1 million.

Agustin Iran Bello was a salesman for ReMax Realty working to procure homes for Jo Cal 1st Investments when allegedly conducted the scheme from June 2010 through March 2011, according to court papers.

The alleged scheme was uncovered during an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and FBI of Jo Cal 1st, Orange County District Attorney investigator Donald Willie said in court papers.

“Bello assisted in the conspiracy to obtain and sell homes to victims that were not his to sell,” Willie alleged in court papers. “He assisted in selling the homes for cash as short sales or investment properties that were reported as being purchased by a private investor.

“He participated in finding victim buyers for these properties and selling the same properties over and over to different investors.”

Bello allegedly persuaded residents he could short-sell the properties and hand them signed grant deeds, which were falsely notarized, Willie alleged.

“Not one bank ever received money owed to them from the sale of their properties,” Willie said in the court papers. “None of the banks that owned the homes were even aware their properties were being sold.

“Bello assisted in defrauding hundreds of thousands of dollars from multiple victim homeowners, investors and banks. The total loss is over $1 million. These thefts caused some victims to be sued and suffer extreme financial loss.”

One property was in Costa Mesa and another was in Santa Ana, according to court papers.

— City News Service

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