Fraud. Photo credit: FBI.gov
Fraud. Photo credit: FBI.gov

A 39-year-old woman pleaded guilty Friday for her part in helping her grandmother illegally take out a second mortgage on her home in Garden Grove and stealing thousands of dollars from her bank account.

Thalia Lugo-Lainez pleaded guilty to multiple felonies, including attempting to file a false or forged instrument, forgery, grand theft, theft from an elder adult, and identity theft, according to court records. She also admitted a sentencing enhancement allegation for property damage exceeding $65,000.

Lugo-Lainez was scheduled to be sentenced April 20.

Co-defendants Christina Espinosa Aldana, 33, of Garden Grove and Lugo-Lainez’s husband, Willmar Lainez, 45, of Anaheim, were next due in court on the case April 20.

Aldana was a paralegal in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office at the time of the alleged crimes. She was placed on administrative leave pending the case’s outcome.

Lugo-Lainez and Lainez lived with the victim, who died in 2014.

When they were charged, Senior Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce said, “It’s financial elder abuse 101… The adult grandchildren, with minor children, move in with grandmother under the agreement that they’ll take care of her and get free room and board in exchange.”

Pierce did not immediately respond to a message Friday.

The couple allegedly secured a second mortgage on the home, amounting to $75,000, and pocketed the funds without the victim’s knowledge, and were also accused of emptying her bank account of about $40,000.

Aldana, who is a notary public, is accused of taking the thumb print of Lugo-Lainez and falsely filling out the documents for the second mortgage claiming it was the victim’s thumb print.

The alleged fraud, which happened between Nov. 7, 2008, and January 2009, came to light when the victim called the bank to see why she was no longer getting printed statements on her account, Pierce said.

She was told she had opted for a “paperless” statement from the bank online, according to the prosecutor.

The victim alerted her daughter, who ended up turning her own daughter in to police, Pierce said.

— City News Service

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