Petaluma man accused of defrauding homeowners enters plea bargain

PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- A Petaluma man accused of defrauding dozens of Bay Area homeowners in a mortgage reduction scam has entered a plea bargain that has angered many of his victims.

7 On Your Side broke the story three years ago and is back with this update.

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Miguel Lopez faced 65 criminal counts ranging from grand theft to fraud. Under a plea deal, Lopez pled no contest to felony grand theft and embezzlement. All the other charges have been dropped.

Lopez could get up to a year in jail and pay his victims more than $100,000 in restitution.

The deal with the State Attorney General's Office also calls for five years' probation and must still be approved by a Sonoma County judge.

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Beverly asked 7 On Your Side not to use her full name or show her face. She says she paid $2,000 to Lopez for a mortgage reduction that never materialized.

She doesn't think one year in jail is enough.

"It's been five years since this has happened, that we've been dealing with this. So give him five years and see what it's like," she said.

Lopez is accused of taking money from struggling homeowners under the false promise of reducing their mortgages.

Emotions have run high during the entire investigation and court case. This is what happened last year when Lopez walked down the court hallway past many of his alleged victims.

The Department of Justice has told the victims it will ask the judge for additional restitution, but the victims are not confident they will ever see any money.

"He's an untrustworthy person. I don't think he's going to keep his word now," Santa Rosa resident Dan Steele said.

"He knew what he was doing and I think he needs to pay his dues," Santa Rosa resident Renee said.

Ultimately, it will be the judge who decides Lopez' sentence.

One victim is relying on a higher power for justice. "To Miguel Lopez, I say, God will punish him because it's not right to steal money," Santa Rosa resident Eugenia Dada said.

Sentencing is set for December 1 in Sonoma County Superior Court. 7 On Your Side reached out to Lopez' attorney but she did not get back to us.
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