|For Immediate Release
Case # 11HF0067
February 1, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
HUSBAND AND WIFE SENTENCED FOR “SQUATTERS” CONSPIRACY TO ILLEGALLY OCCUPY VACANT HOMES IN FORECLOSURE
SANTA ANA – A husband and wife were convicted and sentenced today for conspiring to illegally occupy a home as “squatters” by locating residences that were vacant and in foreclosure. Chris Wayne Duncan, 43, and Robin Ann Duncan, 37, both of Newport Beach, pleaded guilty to a court offer to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit trespass and one misdemeanor count of trespass. The conspiracy count was filed by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as a felony, but the court reduced it to a misdemeanor over the objection of the People. Chris and Robin Duncan were each sentenced to three years of informal probation, credit for time served for eight days in jail, and restitution, the amount of which will be determined at a later date. The People objected to the sentence, arguing that based on the fact that defendants engaged in a conspiracy, the felony should not be reduced to a misdemeanor unless the defendants successfully complete probation.
In April 2010, Chris Duncan worked with attorney Kelly Johnson to hire private investigator Tim Robinson to locate Orange County properties that were in foreclosure and vacant. In September 2010, Chris and Robin Duncan drafted a fraudulent lease for 10 Hidden Pass, a vacant home in foreclosure located in Newport Coast. Chris and Robin Duncan broke into the vacant home and moved in illegally. They contacted the gas and electric company, claimed to be renters, and requested the utilities bill be put in their name to give the false appearance of legitimate tenancy.
In October 2010, the owner of the property, Suong L., sent an appraiser to facilitate the necessary process of the home’s short-sale. Chris and Robin Duncan changed the locks and kept the appraiser from entering the residence as instructed by the owner. Chris and Robin Duncan answered the door, told the appraiser they were legal renters of the property, and to have the owner contact them directly.
Upon receiving this information from the appraiser, the owner of the home reported the crime to Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD). After further investigation, the extent of the Duncan couple’s scheme was discovered and they were arrested Jan. 5, 2010, by NBPD.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Peter Pierce of the Major Fraud Unit prosecuted this case.