Couple defrauded landlords for free rent, authorities say

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Monica Perretta

A San Jose couple were charged last week with repeated attempts
to defraud several landlords out of rent at a number of residences,
including some in Morgan Hill, authorities said.
A San Jose couple were charged last week with repeated attempts to defraud several landlords out of rent at a number of residences, including some in Morgan Hill, authorities said.

Timothy August and Monica Perretta were arrested and charged with multiple counts of theft by false pretenses and passing bad checks, according to Santa Clara County deputy district attorney Victor Chen.

They are accused of using false documents to sign leases to live at several rental homes in the area, with no intention of ever paying their monthly rent payments, Chen noted in a press release.

August and Perretta perpetrated this scheme on at least six occasions in Santa Clara, Campbell and Morgan Hill, and made off with about $30,000 in unpaid rent, Chen said. The incidents date back to 2008.

The couple initiated the scheme by responding to “home for rent” advertisements, and presented falsified copies of W-2 forms, tax documents and credit reports to unsuspecting landlords in order to misrepresent their trustworthiness, authorities said. After agreeing to a one-year lease, the couple would provide the homeowner a personal check to cover the first month’s rent and deposit. Those checks typically bounced after a few days.

The homes August and Perretta rented ranged from $2,000 to $2,600 per month, Chen said.

When the landlord contacted the suspects following the bounced checks, the couple would give various excuses to delay the eviction process, authorities said.

Finally the landlord would begin the eviction process, but one member of the couple would file for bankruptcy to delay the process even more, Chen said.

That process would last six to eight weeks, during which time the couple continued to live at the home rent-free, according to the press release. By the time the bankruptcy court denied the first defendant’s claim, the other suspect would file for bankruptcy, even further delaying the eviction and piling up the free rent.

When the landlord could finally legally remove the tenants, they had lived at each home four to six months without paying rent, Chen said.

“As if that wasn’t enough, they frequently rented out rooms in the homes where they were squatting and kept the money for themselves,” Chen said. “The police found seven pit bulls living inside their latest rental.”

August and Perretta will appear in court today, in department 23 of Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose.

If convicted on all counts, the suspects face a maximum sentence of 6 years, 4 months in prison, authorities said.

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