NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) — A Newport Beach couple is accused of committing deed fraud on three area homes in a scheme authorities say is similar to one targeting an Oscar-winning actress.
Prosecutors say 59-year-old Ronald Eugene Griffin didn’t just trespass onto Halle Berry’s Hollywood Hills home earlier this year. They say he claimed to own it and reportedly tried to change the locks while she was away.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, when Griffin showed up on the property for the second time in two months, he had a fake deed of ownership prompting employees to call police who confirmed with Berry that she did not give anyone authorization to change the title of her home.
Griffin was changed with a felony count of procuring and offering a false warranty deed and petty theft.
Back in Orange County, the couple from Newport Beach is facing charges related to fraudulently taking over the titles of three area homes they did not own. According to prosecutors, the couple allegedly stole $5.9 million in the scam.
According to Orange County Superior Court records, Ronald Cedric Touchard, 59, faces 54 counts of money laundering, three counts of grand theft and three counts of recording a false or forged instrument, as well as several possible sentencing enhancements. Misty Denise Touchard, 43, faces 13 counts of money laundering and three counts of grand theft, as well as possible sentencing enhancements, records show.
“If you’re going to come in here and you’re going to fraudulently record documents, at the end of the day, you’re going to get prosecuted,” Hugh Nguyen, Orange County clerk-recorder, said.
Nguyen said he has only seen two cases of title fraud in the past six years. Both were prosecuted.
According to Nguyen, in Orange County homeowners will know within 48 hours if there has been a change made to the deed to their home.
He also said that if homeowners get something in the mail from the county about unauthorized changes to take it straight to the police.