Two operators of a San Fernando Valley rental listing business were sentenced to jail and probation Tuesday after pleading no contest to charges of advertising properties that were already occupied or poorly maintained, authorities said.
Vickie Lee Cardoza, 40, of Glendale, pleaded no contest to one count of grand theft and one count of running a prepaid rental service without a license, said Mark Lambert, the deputy city attorney who prosecuted the case.
She was sentenced to 36 months probation and 90 days in jail if she fails to complete the same number of days on a Caltrans or graffiti removal crew, authorities said.
Her brother Allen Cardoza, 30, also of Glendale, pleaded no contest to one count of grand theft and one count of willfully making false representations to prospective tenants, Lambert said. He was sentenced to 180 days in county jail and three years probation. He was not given the option of community service.
The two also agreed to pay $11,000--including $3,000 by Friday--in restitution to 76 former customers already identified, Lambert said. They will also be expected to pay restitution to any other customers who come forward before July 25.
Two other defendants in the same case--Gregory Schwartz, 22, and Johnny Noel Rojas, 26--are scheduled for trial on similar charges July 8.
Attorneys for the Cardozas could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The charges against the Cardozas stemmed from an investigation by the California Department of Real Estate, the LAPD Bunco-Forgery Division, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs and the city attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit.
Investigators alleged the four defendants illegally operated Quality Rentals on West Alameda Street in Burbank, later on Califa Street in Van Nuys--before they changed its name to Global Management and moved once again to Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.
The investigators acted on tips from prospective customers who complained the company advertised--in publications such as The Tolucan and The Pennysaver--properties that were already rented, in poor condition, lacked the promised amenities or were being offered at higher prices than first indicated, Lambert said. The customers paid $125 to $175 just to see the properties.
Though the company claimed to have exclusive agreements with certain landlords, some of those landlords said they had never heard of Quality Rentals or Global Management, according to the would-be tenants.
The sentencing conditions also prohibit the Cardozas from working in the rental-listing business during their probation, Lambert said.