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HesperiaStar.com
  • COURTS

    Woman gets jail time in real estate scheme

    Hesperia deal defrauded investors of more than $335K
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  • VICTORVILLE — A 62-year-old woman pleaded no contest Wednesday to three of the 32 charges against her in connection with a Hesperia real estate scheme that prosecutors said bilked investors of more than $335,000.
    Ilona Winegardner was sentenced to three years in jail as part of a plea deal that dismissed the 29 other charges, court records show.
    Winegardner was convicted of two counts of offering or selling unqualified securities and grand theft, according to court records.
    Spanning nearly two years, a large-scale real estate scheme run through a company called Inland Property Development defrauded 10 investors of at least $335,000 beginning in September 2007, according to a felony complaint.
    Peter Vujicich, a pastor from Murrieta, had been sentenced to three years probation in March for his role.
    At the time, Deputy District Attorney Vance Welch of San Bernardino County’s Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Unit called Vujicich just a “little fish.”
    “(Vujicich) received a commission for everybody he brought to Ilona,” Welch said. “If you start soliciting stuff like that to people you don’t know, at that point — an invitation like that is considered a security. You must be licensed and must be registered with the California Department of Business Oversight.”
    Winegardner, who owned New Life Financial Real Estate and New Life Construction in Hesperia, had been facing 10 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
    She was credited with 544 days for time served and good behavior and is eligible for a conduct credit that could cut her time in half, court records show.
    Shea Johnson may be reached at 760-955-5368 or SJohnson@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DP_Shea.
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