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Santa Paula Man Held in Land Scam

June 16, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

A man has been arrested on suspicion of bilking the 83-year-old owner of a small Santa Paula golf course out of $380,000 in a bogus real estate deal involving an area Christmas tree farm, authorities said Tuesday.

Anthony Spencer, 43, also known as Anthony Navarro, was being held on a felony warrant accusing him of grand theft, forgery and money laundering, according to the Ventura County district attorney's office.

Spencer, of Santa Paula, was arrested Friday at a Palm Springs motel. He remained jailed in Palm Springs on the felony warrant and suspicion of possessing a false driver's license, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors were unsure when he would be returned to Ventura County for arraignment.

Spencer is accused of selling a Santa Paula tree farm on Telegraph Road that he didn't own to Melvin A. "Ozzie" Osborn, a Santa Paula resident and owner of Ozzie Osborn's Par 3 Golf Course. Spencer allegedly used the money received from Osborn in a series of checks to pay off personal debts and buy luxury items, authorities said.

Since 1996, Spencer, under the name Navarro, has been convicted of embezzlement, grand theft, petty theft and writing bad checks.

If convicted, Spencer could face up to 13 years in prison.

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