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O.C. rape suspect described as charming, slick

The Irvine real estate broker, accused of assaulting three women, met two of them on the website MillionaireMatch.com.

October 25, 2006|Mike Anton and Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writers

He is described by business associates as smooth-talking and slick. Joseph Raymond Garcia's alleged victims described him the same way, police say.

Authorities on Tuesday continued to investigate Garcia, 47, an Irvine real estate broker charged with sexually assaulting three women ages 22 to 42 -- two of whom he met on an online dating site, MillionaireMatch.com, which boasts that it helps the wealthy find love.

Garcia was arrested Friday, two days after a woman was allegedly raped and sodomized at Garcia's home after being lured there after a date. He is being held on $1-million bail.

"He was described as a very nice guy ... charming, talkative, gregarious and outgoing," said Irvine Police Lt. Rick Handfield -- so gregarious and outgoing that one victim said Garcia was "talking to other ladies" as they were waited on at a restaurant.

When last week's assault was reported, Garcia was already under investigation for a March 2005 alleged sexual assault of a woman he met at a post office and the Aug. 23 alleged assault of a date he had found on MillionaireMatch.com, authorities said.

"This website is identical to a thousand other websites like it -- except this one alleges to get a millionaire," Handfield said.

For $19.95 a month, members can read detailed biographies and connect with "successful people," said Steve Kasper, a spokesman for the site's parent company.

Kasper said the site has half a million clients, including CEOs, pro athletes, models and Hollywood celebrities, among them actor Charlie Sheen.

Kasper said the site's name isn't to be taken literally, however. "If you earn over $100,000 a year, we classify you as a millionaire," Kasper said, "because you have the potential to earn $1 million over time."

Kasper was unaware of the site having received any complaints about Garcia under his user name, which he declined to give. He said the company was cooperating with authorities, who seized a computer from Garcia's home.

The case illustrates "the dangers of being on any date, whether a woman responds to a personal ad ... or whether it's on the Internet," said Susan Kang Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office. "You have the same danger."

Garcia is described by authorities and in documents as a divorced father of two who made his living in real estate.

In 2004, he was convicted of felony auto theft stemming from a payment dispute with an auto dealership over a 2001 Ford Mustang, according California Department of Real Estate documents. He was given three years' probation, fined and ordered to make restitution. In November, a court terminated the probation and dismissed the case.

But the incident led an administrative law judge to place restrictions on Garcia's broker's license this year.

One local real estate agent who worked with Garcia on a recent transaction was surprised to hear he had been charged with rape. "The guy looked like Denzel Washington," said Paul Doan. "He's good-looking, he talks sharp, dresses sharp, and he's very professional."

But another agent had a different view of Garcia.

"He was very cunning and not an honest guy," said Bill Chow, a Westminster Realtor whose client bought a San Bernardino property from Garcia. "He told me something one day and then something different the next. He was a broker, but he didn't know anything about real estate."

Neighbors in Garcia's Irvine town home complex said he had told them he had bought property in Croatia and was planning to fly there Saturday -- the day after he was arrested. He also told them he was getting married in November, they said.

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mike.anton@latimes.com

david.mckibben@latimes.com

Times staff writer David Haldane contributed to this report.

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