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Voodoo Car Dealer Convicted In Real Estate Fraud Case

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Thu, May 6, 2010 at 3:32 PM

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A South Gate used-car dealer who allegedly used voodoo to help him in a fraud case brought against him by authorities was convicted on Thursday of filing false papers and grand theft as part of a real estate fraud scheme, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office announced Thursday. Apparently the voodoo didn't work.

Downey Motorcars owner Ruben Hernandez, 34, was found guilty of four counts of filing a false application and three counts of grand theft. Authorities also say the man had led them on a high-speed chase, but jurors deadlocked on a count of evading arrest as well as two additional counts each of grand theft and false-paper filing.

A search warrant of Hernandez home allegedly turned up a voodoo dolls with the names of the prosecutor and investigators on his case; pins were in their eyes, and they were dunked head-first into cups of water, according to a D.A.'s statement.

A co-defendant, 44-year-old Coast to Coast Mortgage owner Joel Rodriguez, 44, was convicted of six counts of filing a false application and five counts of grand theft. Rodriguez was also arrested in 2008 based on DMV allegations that he and two co-defendants were "reselling and double financing many of the same vehicles and defrauding 21 financial institutions." This allegedly happened at ... you guest it, Downey Motorcars (which is actually in South Gate).

Authorities in the real estate case say Hernandez and Rodriguez bilked victims out of as much as $1.8 million by purchasing property with false identification; Rodriguez opened home-equity credit lines based on the home values and allegedly pocketed the money.

Sentencing was scheduled for June 2. Hernandez could see 13 years behind bars; Rodriguez is looking at a 14-year, four-month maximum.

Authorities allege that Hernandez led authorities on an 80-mile-per-hour pursuit on Feb. 12, 2009 after they moved in to arrest him in the case.

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