VAN NUYS (CBS) — The estranged father of actress Jodie Foster is facing more than 20 years in prison for allegedly bilking investors in the San Fernando Valley out of more than $100,000 after promising to build them low-cost modular homes, prosecutors said Thursday.
The 89-year-old building contractor Lucius Fisher Foster III was charged this week with 17 counts of grand theft and seven counts of contracting without a license — all misdemeanors, according to Deputy City Attorney Don Cocek.
If convicted, Foster, of Sherman Oaks, could face up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for each count of grand theft and six months behind bars for each count of unlicensed contracting, Cocek said.
For each of the alleged 20 victims named in the case, Foster offered to custom-build a 2,000-square-foot modular three-bedroom home on a single family lot for $85,000, the prosecutor said.
A call for comment to Foster’s office was not immediately returned.
Foster made contact with the alleged victims through his Modernistic Properties website, referrals from Realtors and postings on Craigslist, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
Foster “told at least half the victims that he is Jodie’s father as part of the scam to build up trust,” Cocek said.
Each alleged victim gave Foster a deposit of $5,000 towards the home purchase and received a contract stating the house would be completed by a certain date, the prosecutor said.
After the completion dates passed, Foster gave various excuses “but no house was ever built,” Cocek said.
Criminal charges were filed after the City Attorney’s Office discovered during an investigation that several civil judgments had been levied against
Foster by prior victims who had been unable to recover their deposit for work that was never performed, officials said.
A pretrial hearing is set for Nov. 17 in Van Nuys Superior Court, at which time Cocek said he will ask the judge to amend the complaint to add an additional four counts of grand theft for four new victims recently uncovered by Los Angeles police.
Foster is free on his own recognizance, Cocek said.