Woman arrested for swindling fire victims

June 5, 2013

Penny Art EstesSanta Barbara County District Attorney investigators arrested a woman accused of swindling victims of the Jesusita and Tea Fires on Tuesday.

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.




  1. Pelican1 says:

    Unfortunately, B.T. Barnum was right.

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  2. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    This is great news that she has been caught. She had schmoozed her way into the Santa Barbara area movers and shakers and really took a lot of good people to the cleaners. People like her give all contractors a bad name,

    BTW a contractor cannot legally take a down payment of more than 10% or $1000, whichever is less. There are many other laws to protect consumers from unscrupulous people like this woman but sadly most consumers are ignorant of the law.

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
  3. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    You know, we have all these types of businesses, like Gearhart, Guth, etc. that take people’s money and then they get little or no punishment, that others that see aren’t detered much, in that the risk of time (usually four or five years) is worth the risk of making millions.

    I have a solution to STOP all of it. What we need to do is ANY and ALL caught doing this still get four or five years (to keep our incarceration costs down) BUT it is doing hard labor, i.e. like the good ol days of chain gang. I bet if you did this the amount (of individuals) would start to drop fast, as the reward isn’t quite worth the risk anymore.

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      P.S. the woman in the pic here, put here on a chain gang for five years and she’ll be 150+ pounds lighter than she is now.

      (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
      • danika says:

        BTDT, what would her losing 150+ pounds have to do with her criminal act?

        (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
        • easymoney says:

          IMHO, people like this moron deserve to be made a public spectacle sitting in the blocks on the court house steps…
          The public deserves to know who these perps are and what they have done.

          (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
          • danika says:

            I don’t disagree that people who commit such criminal acts deserve to be presented to the public…but I don’t understand BTDT’s connection between the woman’s weight and her crime.

            (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
            • BeenThereDoneThat says:

              Danika my point was that if she is guilty and we had chain gangs and if you gave her five years, she probably wouldn’t look like that in five years from HARD labor.

              I was being sarcastic in that she deserves this (as do the others I mentioned) if they are found guilty, as no other punishment seems to deter.

              We cycle through this crap every ten to fifteen years. In the late eighties it was Milken and junk bonds and local Block and Bower. And here we are in another cycle. SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE to get their attention.

              (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  4. r0y says:

    Rule of thumb: STEER CLEAR OF BUSINESSES WITH “GREEN” in their name. LoL. Only forced government entities can afford to do business with these swindlers. The rest of us will just lose.

    (6) 20 Total Votes - 13 up - 7 down

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