CHICAGO (JGL) – A Filipino caretaker, his daughter and his daughter’s limited liability company (LLC) were ordered by Judge Kimberly E. Colwell of the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California to refund $612,623.99 to a trustee shortly after his Filipino ward died in a coma in the Philippines in 2011.
Judge Colwell, the first lesbian named to serve on Alameda County Superior Court, ordered Roland Sotelo, his daughter, Jocelyn B. Sotelo and her Kapiolani, LLC, to pay Evelyn Bayon, trustee on behalf of the Claus R. and Elsa S. Harder 1999 Trust “individually as the beneficiary of the trust.”
In a default judgment handed down by Colwell on Dec. 18, 2014 but made public only recently, Sotelo and her daughter, Jocelyn, were ordered to pay $414,000 in damages; $189,799.02 in prejudgment interest at the annual rate of 7% and $8,824.97 in costs.
Bayon got wind of the fraud in 2008 when Roland Sotelo told her that her sister, Elsa Harder, had changed the Claus R. and Elsa S. Harder 1999 Trust, refusing her access to her sister’s house and “excluded her from information concerning his conduct.”
She reported his conduct and her concerns that in excluding her, Sotelo might convert trust assets worth a million dollar for his own use. But the police failed to conduct any investigation into her allegations. She called up the lawyer, who prepared the trust. She was told that she was still the trustee and that her lawyer would talk to her co-trustee, Roland Sotelo.
In 2012, Bayon discovered the police failed to conduct an investigation into her allegations. She wrote the lawyer, who prepared the trust, after Sotelo told her that Sotelo had been appointed as the sole trustee. Nevertheless, the lawyer assured her that she was still the trustee to the Harder Trust.
Several months after Elsa Harder died in September 2011, Bayon discovered for the first time documents established Sotelo had taken cash, jewelry, and art in the house of Elsa Harder, and transferred real property owned by the Harder Trust to a limited liability company owned by Sotelo’s daughter, Jocelyn, and Jocelyn’s husband, and used the identity of Wilhelmina Villanueva Bernabe, a tenant of Elsa Harder’s residence at 91 Broadmoor Blvd., San Leandro, California to obtain a loan for approximately $525,000 from Bank of America, using the residence as the loan security.
SOLD AT A FORECLOSURE SALE BY HALF
Because the loan went on a default, the residence was sold at a foreclosure sale by almost half at $224,000.
In an amended complaint filed on Bayon’s behalf by her lawyer, Lawrence W. Fasano, Jr. of San Francisco, California, it was disclosed that at first identity theft victim, Wilhelmina Villanueva Bernabe, did not know that defendants Sotelo and his daughter, Jocelyn, used her Bernabe’s credit and identity to borrow money in her name for the Elsa Harder’s home from Bank of America and did not know that the loan had been taken out in her name as a “straw buyer.”
The Sotelo father and daughter transferred on paper the real estate property under the name of Jocelyn Sotelo to Kapiolani, LLC.
But later, as a “straw buyer,” Wilhelmina Villanueva Bernabe received “several thousand dollars” from the father-and-daughter, who kept for themselves the balance of $520,000 Bank of America loan in her name.
An unemployed, Rolando, aside from being a caretaker for Elsa Harder, took without authorization from the Harder Trust jewelry, cash and art and depleted checking, savings and other accounts, and other assets of the Trust, which he was able to liquidate to pay for his vacations and the purchase of other real estate, for which Bayon requested an accounting and an imposition of a constructive trust.
Bayon filed charges against 50 others, including the Sotelos, the Kapiolani, LLC, Bank of America N.T.S.A, a Delaware corporation, and Dennis S. Aquino.
Bayon included Bank of America employees “Does 1-20,” arguing the bank knew Wilhelmina Villanueva Bernabe was not a purchaser of Harder property nor she had no personal involvement in the loan application process and that they knew the Sotelos were obtaining a loan using stolen identity and credit of Bernabe, who did not make payment of the loan.
The complaint said the Sotelos “made some payments on the loan but then defaulted, resulting in the loan being foreclosed upon.”
Bayon filed charges of fraud, conversion of trust of real property, conversion of personal property, breach of fiduciary duty and constructive trust and unjust enrichment. She sought general damages, special damages, punitive damages in excess of $25,000 against the Sotelos and Kapiolani, including interest, declaring for the complainant the trust of all real estate, vehicles, money accounts using plaintiff’s assets; accounting of Sotelos’ Harder Trust’s real estate, vehicles, money accounts acquired by the Sotelos, using Harder Trust.