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Ex-LAPD detective charged in alleged real estate scam

The San Bernardino County case against Darcey Greenfield involves three alleged victims, but there are numerous others, including fellow L.A. cops.

May 13, 2011|By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
  • Darcey Greenfield, 39, surrendered Wednesday to investigators from the San Bernardino County district attorney's real estate fraud unit.
Darcey Greenfield, 39, surrendered Wednesday to investigators from the… (San Bernardino County district…)

A recently resigned Los Angeles police detective, who enticed fellow cops and others to invest millions of dollars with her, has been arrested and charged with theft and securities fraud.

Darcey Greenfield, 39, surrendered Wednesday to investigators from the San Bernardino County district attorney's real estate fraud unit after an arrest warrant was issued late last week, authorities said. Greenfield faces 10 felony charges, including the sale of false investment securities, the sale of securities without a license and grand theft.

Greenfield pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday, said Vance Welch, the deputy district attorney in charge of the real estate fraud unit. Her bail has been set at just over $1 million and she remains in custody at a detention center in Rancho Cucamonga, he said. Her attorney could not reached.

The fact that Greenfield was an LAPD cop heightened the importance of the case, Welch added. "We have to show that we are willing to hammer our own, or no one has any faith in the system," he said.

Greenfield and her real estate dealings were the subject of a Times article last year.

Shortly after joining the LAPD in 1994, Greenfield told The Times in an interview last year, she began investing in real estate. Those early purchases and sales of properties were personal deals, but soon evolved into a side business that involved soliciting investments from others. She made grandiose claims, telling investors they would receive double-digit returns within months, according to authorities and documents obtained by the Times.

The charges filed by San Bernardino County prosecutors stem from investments totaling $265,000 that Greenfield collected in 2008 from a husband and wife and another man who lived in that county, according to court filings.

Greenfield is accused of violating state laws that establish the terms under which people can sell securities, such as real estate.

One of the charges alleges that she illegally assured the investors that she would sell a piece of her own property to reimburse them if their deals went sour. Prosecutors also allege that Greenfield lied to the investors when she told them the properties in which she was investing their money were secured by official deeds of trust.

Greenfield told the investors their money would be used to help homeowners in foreclosure, according to the district attorney's office. The victims were promised they would get back a high rate of return and their principal, but they received nothing, authorities said.

Greenfield's reach extended far beyond the investors in the San Bernardino County criminal case. Over several months in 2007 and 2008, Greenfield told The Times, she collected about $2 million from investors. San Bernardino County officials put the total amount raised from Los Angeles County residents at $3 million.

At least 13 LAPD employees are known from Greenfield's court records to have invested with her, including four detectives and five supervising sergeants. Police officials say they suspect that the total was higher because officers were probably pooling their money and investing under a single name.

The money disappeared. Greenfield claimed she had been swindled by a man named Leroy Dowd. According to Greenfield, Dowd, the 70-year old bishop of a South Los Angeles church, had persuaded her to give him the cash she raised to help him catch up on late mortgage and tax payments on his church and several other properties. In exchange, she said, he promised he would repay her with hefty profits when the properties were sold or the mortgages refinanced.

Dowd was eventually arrested on unrelated fraud charges. He pleaded guilty to duping an elderly woman into signing over the deed to her Claremont house and selling it from beneath her, as well as stealing more than $40,000 from a bank in a check-kiting scam. Dowd was released from custody last year, and his whereabouts are unknown. San Bernardino County authorities said they were not currently investigating him.

Some of Greenfield's investors have questioned her claims that she was an unknowing victim of Dowd, saying they believe she was somehow involved in the scheme. It is a charge that Greenfield denied in an interview with The Times last year. Los Angeles police officials launched an investigation into Greenfield, but she resigned from the department earlier this year before disciplinary proceedings were completed.

LAPD officials did not return calls for comment.

At least three officers, including Greenfield, have declared bankruptcy as a result of the investments. Others went further into debt to pay back friends and relatives who gave them money to invest. The debacle has been an embarrassment for LAPD officials, who were left to ponder how officers trained to solve crimes ended up being taken so easily.

joel.rubin@latimes.com

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