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Trio arrested in El Rancho scam
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Three men who allegedly scammed older residents at the El Rancho Mobile Home Park out of thousands of dollars in unneeded repairs have been arrested in Modesto.     

Manteca Police detective Gregg Beall credited the “exceptional police work” of patrolman Shawn Cavin and detective Wayne Miller in solving the case.  He said the trio also allegedly preyed on residents in Turlock during the fall of 2009.

Charged with six counts of elder abuse, two counts of burglary, one count of grand theft, one count of conspiracy and one count of burglary were David Gruenefelder, 59, Matthew James Regalado, 32 and Tony Lee Zarate, 38, all of Modesto.  The men were also charged for operating a business without a contractor’s license, Beall said.

Regalado and Zarate were arrested by the Manteca detective at the conclusion of a pre-trial conference appearance in the Stanislaus County Superior Court earlier this week.  They were then booked into the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp.  Detective Wayne Miller had worked with the Turlock Police Department.

 Officers have a warrant for Gruenefelder’s arrest after he is released from jail in Modesto where he is reportedly being incarcerated after his arrest in connection with the Turlock case, Beall said.  The other two had been out of jail on their own recognizance, police said.

The men allegedly had gone door-to-door in the mobile home park in the 1900 block of East Yosemite Avenue offering to do free inspections of mobile homes.  The detective said they were pointing out numerous “defects” they claimed needed attention that were perfectly OK.

Alleged sewer leaks that they said were compromising the water lines was just one of their ploys, Beall said. Other warnings involved the support jacks underneath the homes they said were faulty as well as soon-to-fail-electrical systems.

The detective noted that the cost estimates to fix the fictitious problems were high. They reportedly told the residents that if they called another contractor for a quote they would red tag their mobile homes and they would have to move out.  Their suspected fear was that another workman would come in and tell the resident there was nothing wrong with their home.  They required cash or checks before actually scheduling any work.

The company name was DHS – David’s Home Services, out of Modesto. The men claimed to have completed several projects.

The two men were being held in the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp in lieu of $473,000 bail.  They were scheduled to appear in the San Joaquin County Superior Court in Stockton Friday afternoon.