SACRAMENTO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced on June 19 that the Assembly Public Safety Committee passed an important piece of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights that aims to protect California homeowners from fraud and scams.
Senate Bill 1474 (Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley) would allow the attorney general to convene a special grand jury to investigate and indict the perpetrators of financial crimes involving victims in more than one county, as well as crimes conducted by a single defendant or multiple defendants who worked together. The bill passed unanimously with bipartisan support.
Under current law fraud in which the victims are located across the state require separate grand juries and charges must be filed in every county where the defendant committed a crime. This legislation would provide for the option of a special grand jury that can produce indictments for financial crimes beyond the scope of single-county grand juries.
“Scammers continue to prey on vulnerable Californians who simply want to stay in their homes,” Harris said. “This legislation will create a more cohesive legal process to prosecute those who prey on Californians across county lines.”
“The attorney general is currently engaged in the investigation of significant crimes,” Senator Hancock said. “Unfortunately, county-by-county grand juries do not work well in dealing with large-scale wrongdoing in multiple jurisdictions. With this bill, the attorney general can investigate multijurisdictional crimes — it will provide protection when Californians need it the most.”
The Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, established by Harris, investigates and prosecutes crimes related to mortgages, foreclosures and real estate. In recent weeks the Strike Force has secured the conviction of perpetrators of scams in the Fresno and Sacramento areas.
SB 1474 will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
For more information on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights go to www.oag.ca.gov.