Central Valley Women Charged in Foreclosure Refurbishing Scam

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A San Joaquin County grand jury has charged two real estate brokers with defrauding investors of $4.5 million as part of scheme in which they promised to provide hefty profits to people who loaned them money to buy and refurbish foreclosed homes.

An indictment unsealed Monday charged Leesa Marie Ward, the chief executive of Ward Real Estate Brokerage and Foreclosure Services, and a colleague, Alison Ann Jensen, with tax evasion, grand theft and securities fraud.

Ward, of Lodi, was arrested Friday, and Jensen, a Pleasanton resident, turned herself in for booking on Monday. Both women are being held on three million dollars bail.

Investors started filing civil lawsuits against Ward Real Estate after they stopped receiving interest payments in late 2006. The Tracy-based company went out of business after the California Department of Corporations issued the firm a cease-and-desist order a year later.

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