Woman arrested for swindling fire victims
June 5, 2013
Penny Art Estes, 63, allegedly took money upfront from 13 victims of the fires, but then failed to follow through on construction projects, instead disappearing with nearly $5 million. She told her victims that her Green Building America company used mold- and fire-resistant hybrid blocks in home construction.
Several of her victims were over 65 when they signed contracts with Estes.
Prosecutors have charged Estes with 24 felony counts, including diversion of construction funds, obtaining services by false pretenses, grand theft and financial elder abuse, as well as failure to file income taxes for 2009, 2010 and 2011.
District Attorney Investigators Norma Hansen and Greg Wilkins apprehended Estes in San Bernardino County early Tuesday morning.
Estes was booked into the San Bernardino Jail. She is being held on $2.5 million bail and will be brought to the Santa Barbara County Jail as soon as she can be transported.