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Angeles County | Community News File / Los Angeles

Woman Pleads Guilty to Rental Scam Charges

June 18, 1998

A former real estate broker pleaded guilty to 13 charges of grand theft Wednesday for renting out homes in Los Angeles and Inglewood that she did not own, the prosecution said.

Mary Louise Johnson, 57, also pleaded guilty to taking out a $75,000 loan against a dead woman's house and having the Department of Motor Vehicles transfer ownership of the decedent's car to herself, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Rick Hirsh, of the real estate fraud division.

Johnson, who was on parole from a prior conviction for grand theft, bilked between 12 and 14 victims out of $13,500 in the rental scam.

"She'd advertise properties in foreclosure in local papers and take money down," Hirsh said.

Her victims grew suspicious and alerted authorities when she didn't deliver keys to their residences.

Johnson faces a maximum of five years in state prison when she is sentenced July 23, Hirsh said.

But if she pays her victims back before that date, her jail time could be reduced to four years, he said.

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