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Stockton couple pleads guilty to stripping foreclosure of fixtures

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POSTED April 24, 2012 11:59 p.m.

A married couple from Stockton pled guilty April 10 to criminal charges arising out of the theft and vandalism of over $20,000 worth of fixtures from their home which they had lost in foreclosure in a non-judicial trustee’s sale in 2011.

The homeowners had been in default on their two mortgage loans for almost two years and had been unsuccessful in their efforts to sell their home in a “short sale.”

Greg Alan Wright, age 41, pled no contest in removal of attachments or fixtures from mortgaged or encumbered real property, a felony, which carries a possible county jail prison term of up to three years. He was also charged with misdemeanor vandalism. He was sentenced by the San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Franklin Stephenson to five years felony probation and 270 hours of community service. Sandy Wright (aka Sandy Khounvichith), age 48, pled no contest to identical misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to three years of probation and 270 hours of community service. The Wrights have already served seven days in jail and could serve additional jail time if they violate the terms of their probation. They have been ordered to make monthly payments to be determined by the Probation Department. A final criminal Restitution Order for the total damages caused—which could be in excess of $20,000 – will be enforceable as a civil judgment and cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

The corporate victim, Manteca-based Foster Advantag, purchased the Wrights’ former home on Silveroak Circle in Stockton in May, 2011, on the courthouse steps. Immediately after the trustee’s sale, an agent for Foster knocked on the front door and offered the Wrights $1,000 “cash for keys” to leave the property within one week. The Wrights declined the offer, and instead completely stripped the home of its fixtures, including but not limited to the appliances, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, toilets, sinks, medicine cabinets, water heater, water softener, light fixtures, light switches, fire alarms, closet doors, closet hardware, baseboards and crown molding. The Wrights thereafter refused to answer calls from Foster representatives who then took photos of the damage and submitted a police report. Stockton Police Department Detective Andrew Smith investigated the case and determined that the Wrights had taken the items from the Silveroak home and arrested them while they were in the process of installing those items in another home in Stockton that they had purchased and were renovating.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney James Lewis warns that homeowners who are frustrated with their lender, or who are angry at a trustee’s sale purchaser, risk criminal prosecution if they vandalize their home or take the fixtures.

“It is a felony to take more than $250 worth of items from a home with a mortgage or lien without written consent from the lender or purchaser at the trustee’s sale,” he said. “Real estate agents, especially those handling ‘short sales’ of homes with mortgage in default, are legally and ethically obligated to ensure that their clients do not take any items from the home without the written consent of any lender who has a security interest in the property.”

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