MURRIETA – Two men who leased vacant homes through Craigslist in the Temecula Valley as part of a scam to target unsuspecting renters led to believe the defendants were legitimate property managers pleaded guilty Friday to theft and were immediately sentenced to three years probation.
Brent David Perry, 27, and Matthew Andrew Sinay, 25 — both of Temecula – – were arrested in April 2013 after Riverside County sheriff’s investigators learned the pair had been renting houses owned by banks with which the defendants had no connection.
Perry and Sinay were each charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts, including burglary, grand theft and trespassing.
During a preliminary hearing today at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, the prosecution and defense informed Superior Court Judge Mark Mandio that a plea deal had been reached, under which each defendant agreed to admit one count of misdemeanor theft. In exchange, the District Attorney’s Office dropped the remaining charges.
Deputy District Attorney Ray Ramirez told City News Service one reason for negotiating a plea agreement had to do with an inability to locate several witnesses.
Mandio certified the agreement and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense. Under the terms, Perry and Sinay were each required to pay victim restitution, totaling $10,000.
According to sheriff’s investigators, the defendants were first arrested on April 5, 2013, after they were caught issuing fraudulent rental agreements for single-family dwellings they didn’t own. They were arrested on suspicion of trespassing, conspiracy and burglary in connection with the activity, linked to a property in the 32000 block of Ritter Court in Temecula.
The men posted bond within two days of their first arrest and were released from jail. However, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Joseph Greco, detectives obtained information indicating the pair had been involved in similar scams at other homes in surrounding locations, leading to their being re-arrested and charged with rent-skimming.
At least four victims were identified. Ramirez said the rental properties were advertised on Craigslist.