Clayton Real Estate Agent Arrested for Financial Elder Abuse & Forgery

January 5, 2012 11:30 am · 29 comments

Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson announced today that 63-year-old Walter A. Roberts was arrested by the District Attorney’s Investigations Unit on December 16, 2011 for allegedly forging his 92-year-old father’s and 85-year-old mother’s signatures on a Grant Deed filed at the County Recorder’s Office.

The following information is from the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office:

The Grant Deed, filed on 12/1/11, fraudulently transfers home ownership from the elderly parents to Walter A. Roberts. Bail for the suspect is set at $280,000.

Roberts is an unemployed but licensed real estate agent who resided with his parents in Clayton, CA. The District Attorney charged Roberts with financial elder abuse and forgery relating to the Grant Deed, but Roberts is also charged with forging his father’s signature on a $28,644 check. The parents never gave Roberts permission or authority to forge their signatures on any document or check.

The home that Roberts fraudulently transferred title to himself is valued at over $300,000. The home is a rental property located in Concord, CA.

The arrest of Roberts is the result of a new ‘Fraud Notification Program’ in Contra Costa County which seeks to promptly alert all homeowners whenever title has transferred from one person to another. Contra Costa County’s ‘Fraud Notification Program’ is the first of its kind in Northern California. In collaboration with the County Tax Assessor and the District Attorney, the County Recorder sends an informational letter to each homeowner whenever title transfers. The information letter is written in English and Spanish, and it provides a hot line for the homeowner to call the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit if that person feels he/she is a victim of a fraudulent transfer of ownership.

District Attorney Mark A. Peterson stated “that we hope to proactively catch high tech criminals or con-artists who might try to steal one’s title or equity by filing false documents at the County Recorder’s Office. We believe that promptly contacting the true homeowner within a few days of any transfer of ownership is the best way to ensure homeowners that their title is protected. “

Walter A. Roberts is being prosecuted by the Real Estate Fraud Unit of Contra Costa County by Deputy District Attorney Ken W. McCormick.

The Contra Costa County Real Estate Fraud Unit is part of the office’s Special Operations Unit.

Any suspected real estate fraud can be reported to the District Attorney Office at 925-957-8763.

1 Miket January 5, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Good job Mark!

2 ben January 5, 2012 at 11:45 AM

No notary on the document?

3 micheLLeS January 5, 2012 at 11:54 AM

From your elderly parents…really?? Just when I thought I couldn’t be more disappointed in people who steal.

4 steve weir January 5, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Yes, the document has a notary, another issue to pursue.

5 Bob the Repairman January 5, 2012 at 12:16 PM

This adds to the low class and ugly image of real estate business. Sad on how low someone will go.

6 Anon January 5, 2012 at 12:25 PM

It’s possible that he needed that money to pay his parent’s rent, or buy their food, or pay their medical bills. Don’t always assume the worst and realize that these charges may have been filed by a sibling who just wants the money. Taking care of parents who reach their 90’s is not always easy or a financial breeze. I was lucky that my parents saved enough money to support themselves and pay for their own full-time care, but that is not always the case. Full-time live-in help is extremely expensive. If you choose to provide that care yourself, you are giving up your own income to do so and may be entitled to a reasonable level of compensation.

7 anonymous January 5, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Now it would be nice if DA Mark Peterson took the same pay cut every other county official including the Board of Supervisors took, wouldn’t it Mark?

8 JR Concord January 5, 2012 at 12:43 PM

This is awesome .
If you need cash to take care of your parents, there are LEGAL ways to go about doing that. As a licensed real estate agent he knew this. He chose to the steal property anyway. He is a scum bag wannabe thief !!!
You may be able to add perjury to his list of crimes…

9 Fraud is a deliberate misrepresentation... January 5, 2012 at 12:46 PM

for ones own personal gain!

@ Anon: Oh come on, fraud is FRAUD.

Makes me wonder if he was intercepting their social security and or retirement checks.

10 @anon#6 January 5, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Seriously? It would appear that the parents were not happy with this because they must have received the letter advising them of the transfer and reported it.

I agree with JR in Concord. There are legal ways to go about this. He forged a check too. If his parents were ok with giving him money, they would have.

11 Charles-the-cat January 5, 2012 at 1:04 PM

@Anon #6- I was trying to find a reasonable explanation as I read this since I see how my 80-something parents get so easily confused about things. The allegedly forged check could tell us more. The story didn’t say but it would be interesting to see who the check was made out to. $28,644 is an odd amount. Was it written to cover real estate taxes on the parents’ property or did the son use it to buy a new car or pay off a loan shark?

12 A Notary January 5, 2012 at 1:44 PM

As a notary, you are REQUIRED to obtain fingerprints when notarizing any type of property deed. It may prove interesting to check the notary’s ledger.

13 Anon2you January 5, 2012 at 1:58 PM

I will hold out until we hear more about this. Taking care of elderly parents sometimes does require a “signature” here and there, or a little fraud now and then (with no personal gain) just to expedite things. Elderly parents often forget what they have done, or previously given authorization for. Now if it comes out that this guy is impersonating his Father and doing this for his own gain, then he is a real scum bag and they need to punish him to the full extent of the law. But again I would wait to judge in this case from my own experience…

14 local94553 January 5, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Probably father and son have same name that is one way he could have fooled a notary

15 Nancy January 5, 2012 at 6:20 PM

The parents could have asked him to pay some of their debt and now they don’t remember about it. It’s a sad story and no one really knows what this man had to go through. He can even be mentally unstable after years of spending days and sleepless nights taking care of his elderly parents as he could no longer work to be able to assist them 24/7. We really need to wait for more information before we can judge him.

16 Nom de Plume January 5, 2012 at 8:54 PM

It happens. Not every child has their parents’ interests at heart. True story:

Sibling A cares for ill parent, then Sibling B cares for ill parent. Parent recovers independence again at which time Sibling A files a power of attorney in order to completely take over parent’s affairs. Luckily, parent had already seen an attorney so this POA was invalid.

This caused a real mess within the family because Sibling A is furious at everyone and believes they deserve everything. No worries for awhile until Sibling A got back on speaking terms with parent and is pushing to reinstate the POA. Sibling A is very manipulative so now pray that parent can withstand the onslaught and remind them to call the attorney if needed.

So who still thinks all children who care for their parents are kind and wanting the best for them?! Protect yourself and your loved ones.

17 C'mon People. January 5, 2012 at 8:59 PM

@Anon2you- A little fraud now and then is ok? I don’t know about that.

Why not just get power of attorney to make the decisions? If you don’t you might end up being accused of something you might have innocently done.

18 Really? January 6, 2012 at 8:07 AM

Nom de Plume – I’m often surprised at how people treat their elderly parents. as they are teaching their children how to treat them when/if they become elderly and/or ill. Awful. So sorry – hope this is not your family.

I would be interested to see the notary’s journal. Also, even though this person has the same name as his father, chances are someone would have had to sign for his mother? Just a thought.

I had a father with Alzheimer’s. Two out of four siblings were involved with his care. I didn’t feel I was owed anything after eighteen. If anything, I owed him. There was not much money (after assisted living). He did provide very well for us as children. I still owe him a debt of gratitude. Mom died back in the sixties.

19 steve weir January 6, 2012 at 8:37 AM

The signature of both parents (presumably forged) appear on the document. Father and son (Henry A and Walter) do not have the same name.

20 financial elder abuse January 6, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Thanks for the post. And then there’s the institutional financial elder abuse practiced legally by big insurance companies and their third party salesmen. They peddle unsuitable annuities to elders who often don’t understand or have a need for their products. In some cases locking up a majority of their life savings in low return, irrevocable annuities with outrageously low commuted values.

21 eldercop January 6, 2012 at 11:42 AM

It’s a tough call, sometimes when people have dementia they forget they ever agreed or signed anything. He will get off with probation at the worst.

22 anonanonagain January 6, 2012 at 12:23 PM

I read the article in the paper the other day. Glad that they have a new system in place to catch these creeps!! People will now get a letter advising them if their home is being sold/mortgaged/bank forgeries etc. The computer automatically sends a letter to the homeowner/account holder the next day!!! Supposedly one of this “gentleman’s” (used loosely) siblings noticed that he had forged a check and that he was selling the house beneath his parents!! He lived with them in Richmond.
Hope he loves jail, the food and the 24 hour free sex…….

23 anonanonagain January 6, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Article also mentioned our culture of self entitlement. An inheritance is a gift, not your automatic, god given right…….

24 Good Grief January 7, 2012 at 8:21 AM

I’m thankful to hear that there are watchdog agencies in place to curtail abuse against the elderly. Unfortunately, I’ve heard more stories than I’d like to admit about adults “bleeding” their parents’ bank accounts and siblings fighting over estates. I’ve even come across people angry about the fact that their parents didn’t leave them enough. Unbelievable.

25 anon January 7, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Forging a deed is illegal under any circumstance, even with the alleged oral permission of the owner. This forgery is anything but innocent. There are several ways a person can access property of the incapacitated elderly to provide to their care even if there is no power of attorney or trust. It is called a conservatorship.

26 BK January 9, 2012 at 9:26 PM

I know this guy very well and in the past, he has always conducted himself with integrity in real estate dealings and most of all caring for his parents with love and respect. Let the truth be told that this downhill events started when he met his so called “girlfriend” few years ago when she introduced herself as a relative to a royal family of Bhutan. It turns out that she was nothing but a ruthless Pilipino con-artist. With emotional affection and a cult demeanor, she soon gained his confidence and loyalty. He lost all his personal assets (including his rental properties) trying to keep her happy and most importantly his common sense. To this day from Jail he is still trying to get money in her hands. This is a sad affair of a lonely 63yrs old guy who is a nice kind guy who has been taken advantage/brain wash by a nasty occultist. BEWARE Clayton/Concord of his women.

27 concordguy January 10, 2012 at 3:27 AM

Interesting last comment about filopino girl taking his money. I wouldn’t be surprised. And I do agree that he was good to his parents. Last time we talked he acted peculiar which is actually his very nature. Walter is a nice man and was intelligent at one time (not now with this latest problem)but never really did anything in terms of making money. He invested in some properties and it seemed like they always were losers. I hope it all works out for his parents and siblings. Is this cult thing in the central valley? He made some off the wall comment about something that struck me odd when we spoke.

28 Antler January 10, 2012 at 7:20 AM

Simple Power of Attorney (POA) does not give authority to completely take over someone else’s affairs!!! One must apply to Social Security to become an elderly parent’s Representative Payee (RP). There must be confirmation from the parent’s physician stating that the patient is not capable of making decisions on their own….for whatever reason. Then you must go in to the nearest Social Security office (stack of documentations re your parent in hand) and undergo about one hour of grilling, documentation, legal form signing, fingerprinting, etc.. Being a person’s Representative Payee means in all legal matters, you BECOME that person. They no longer conduct financial/legal business of any kind, including whether or not to live in or sell their real estate; they may not even make their own heath care decisions. My interview to become my 92-year-old mother’s Representative Payee was conducted with extreme thoroughness (because it is in fact an anti-fraud screening, and rightfully so). The agent was very courteous and gentle, and the love I felt for my mother (once an astute, successful businesswoman) made me fight back tears most of the way through the questions, forms, and signatures. Social Security will mail brochures on various legal procedures to you if you telephone them and ask… least they were still doing that 8 years ago….or you can go into one of their offices and choose from a rack of brochures.

On the point of there needing to be a notary public seal requiring signatures and fingerprints for transfer of deeds ……yes, if the RP status is not in place. But Roberts as a real estate agent (even though currently unemployed) might also be a notary public, so the access to seal might have been right there. Fingerprints may even have been made while the elderly parents were sleeping naturally or influenced by pain medication. Circumstance of discovery might even be that one of the accused man’s siblings came into the parents’ home to go through the mail and do certain business (signing checks) as permitted by POA (which can be held by any number of the elderly person’s children)…… the sibling might have read the deed transfers, might have known for a fact that the parents were not capable of going down and conducting that type of business…..or else that they would not have shown such favoritism without even discussing it with all the children…. and so they correctly followed up on the matter. There will continue to be many “MIGHTS”, even including the possibility that the father did in fact sign the papers but has subsequently forgotten he did….or that he changed his mind but defensively does not want to admit he is making such mistakes. Or it might be that the son simply is a CROOK, pure and simple.

Please, if any of you are caring for parents and you start to fell fatigued and overwhelmed to the point of desperation because everything is falling apart, just ASK for help. There are legal paths to follow, and people and agencies are in place to guide you through the process. Start by letting your primary physician know your situation and that you are under conditions of extreme stress; he/she will know how to steer you toward practical help and correct agencies. There is no excuse…repeat NO excuse…for breaking the law!!!

I am glad Steve Weir is already posting for our benefit. His advice is the most knowledgeable. And Mark Peterson and he, together with Mr. Mayor, hopefully will continue to talk us through this.

29 CCGuy January 11, 2012 at 7:36 AM

Roberts has pleaded quilty….anyone charged with
falsifying the notary?

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