COVINA – San Bernardino County investigators have arrested a notary on suspicion of fraud in a Rancho Cucamonga real estate transaction.
Christi Fry, 56, of West Covina allegedly helped Omar Paz, 52, of Rancho Cucamonga bilk his ex-wife out of several thousand dollars following the sale in 2005 of a Rancho Cucamonga home, authorities said.
Fry, also known as Christi Martin, was taken into custody on Tuesday at Seller’s Choice Escrow in Covina. She was booked into the county jail and is being held in lieu of $450,000 bond.
“We were able to make this case just one day before the statue of limitations ran out,” said Martin Landrum, county District Attorney’s Office investigator.
Paz was arrested outside his workplace, ABA Labs in Monrovia, Landrum said. He is being held in lieu of $850,000 bail.
According to investigators, Paz and his former wife owned a home in Rancho Cucamonga. After a domestic dispute, he decided to sell the home, Landrum said.
Fry handled the escrow as well as the notary duties on the transaction, Landrum said.
The property sold for about $470,000.
The excess proceeds, about $83,000, were wired into a joint account held by Paz and his former wife, who was not identified.
Ten days later, Paz transferred $77,054 into another account that his ex-wife did not have access to, Landrum said.
During divorce proceedings, the woman was looking at paperwork and realized her name had been forged on disclosure forms, escrow instructions and the grant deed. All the paperwork had been notarized by Fry, Landrum said.
“There’s a lot of this type of activity now and there was even before the real estate market went bad,” Landrum said. “There’s no end of people forging documents and providing false information.”
A separate investigation by the state Secretary of State’s Office resulted in Fry’s notary license getting pulled, officials said.
Paz faces charges of conspiracy, forgery, grand theft, money laundering and offering a forged document to be recorded. Fry was charged with conspiracy by the District Attorney’s Office, Landrum said.