A fire that destroyed the home of the man convicted in this fraud case is rekindling intense emotions in those the court found cheated.
State prosecutors successfully argued that some 80 homeowners were misled by this man, Miguel López, who illegally collected advance fees for loan modifications he was unable to obtain.
A judge sentenced him to one year in jail and ordered him to pay $ 250,000 in restitution in 2016.
Today his victims say that what they have received from López is ridiculous.
“Maybe $ 12 to $ 15 from the courts. It’s like they send me a check every now and then. I laugh,” said Kelly Gillette of Windsor.
The checks Sara Zanders received would barely pay for a cup of coffee. He doesn’t even bother to collect them.
“I really expected to gobble up the whole system because I felt they were insulting,” Zanders told 7 On Your Side.
Last week, a fire swept through the home of Lopez and his wife Heidi Marks in the Sonoma County town of Penngrove. He doesn’t get much sympathy from his victims.
“Thank goodness for karma. That was my first thought,” Zanders said.
“Oh, I have no sympathy. No. You get – you reap what you sow,” Gillette added.
Gillette says she paid Lopez $ 4,000 and was basically ignored by him after that.
Sara paid $ 3,000, but she still lost her home.
Daniel Steele paid $ 2,000.
“Miguel López hurt people. It wasn’t so much about money as how much he hurt people,” Daniel said.
He says he only received $ 100 in restitution.
Lawrence Jacobsen is a real estate attorney. He suggests that victims hire an attorney to determine whether López is hiding his assets. “The trick is to find out what he has and where it is. If he doesn’t have it, all you can do is wait until he wins the lottery,” he said.
The victims for now are focused on rebuilding their lives.
Steele lost the Coffey Park home he fought to save in the North Bay wildfires in 2017. He has since rebuilt it.
“There wasn’t a nail in the house that wasn’t made with respect, love, dignity and honor,” she said of the house, which originally belonged to her dad.
Zanders now lives in a small cabin that he rents. “I got over it. I tried really hard to put this on the bed and not think about it,” he said.
Gillette said he managed to fix his finances. “Yes, I am still in the same house when it all started,” he said.
7 On Your Side contacted the Sonoma County Probation Office for comment, but did not respond to us.
Take a look at more stories and videos from Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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