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News Release

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Media Relations

Fraud Suspects Arrested After Two Year Investigation

Los Angeles: The Real Estate Fraud Unit (REFU) within Financial Crimes Division (FCD) brought a two-year investigation to conclusion on Monday, September 9, 2002 with the arrest of seven defendants.

The REFU is funded by the Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Grant and has been actively investigating real estate fraud cases for over two years. These arrests culminated a two- year investigation of a complex and sophisticated real estate fraud ring. The case was presented to the Los Angeles Grand Jury in August, 2002. The Grand Jury sent down indictments against 16 individuals, charging conspiracy to commit real estate fraud.

On September 9, 2002, Detectives from REFU and FCD served 7 of the 16 arrest warrants issued with the Grand Jury Indictment and arrested following suspects:

  1. Mark H. Levin, Male 50 years old, of Calabassas.

  2. Betty J. Bernhisel, Female, 53 years old, of Glendora

  3. Penjalee C. Kennedy, Female, 38 years old, of Los Angeles

  4. Lauri M. Lampkin, Female, 44 years old, of Los Angeles

  5. Janet M. King, Female, 40 years old, of Los Angeles

  6. Maria A. Villegas, Female, 40 years old, of Huntington Park

  7. Derek M. Martin, Male, 39 years old, of Agoura Hills

REFU Detectives are actively seeking the arrest of the following individuals:

  • James J. Jeknavorian, Male, 52 years old, of Woodland Hills

  • Joseph A. Little, Male, 41 years old, of Simi Valley

  • Donald S. Knoblock, Male, 83 years old, of Studio City

  • John Robert Burnett, Male, 61 years old, of Santa Clarita

  • Jose M. Zertuche, Male, 56 years old, of Riverside

  • Linnea R. Bailey, Female, 55 years old, of Sun Valley

  • Kajuan M. Moore, Female, 37 years old, of North Hollywood

  • Birdie Y. McClain, Female, 55 years old, of Studio City

  • Sharon A. Presley, Female, 58 years old, of Studio City

For further information please contact Detective Erin Camphouse or Detective Nick Spathopoulos of the Real Estate Fraud Unit, at 213-847-2749.

This press release was prepared by Public Information Officer Jason Lee, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.