A Santa Cruz woman appeared in Santa Clara County Superior Court Thursday afternoon to be formally arraigned on felony and misdemeanor charges related to a home building fraud case on Camino del Cerro in Los Gatos.
Sandra Nora Greenwell, 56, was referred to the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender and the case was continued until 9 a.m. April 11 for her identification of counsel.
Greenwell faces one count of felony diversion of construction funds and one count of Business and Professions Code violation for felony fraudulent use of a contractor's license number.
She's also been accused of felony grand theft of personal property, or money and misdemeanor contracting without a license.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Lisa Schon, who appeared Thursday for the prosecution, said if convicted Greenwell could be sentenced to a maximun prison time of four years and four months.
"She opened up an LLC for the purpose of building a residential home in Los Gatos on Camino del Cerro and she's not a licensed contractor," Schon said. "She hired a number of unlicensed contractors to work on the project."
Schon also said Greenwell wrote herself checks from the LLC account, which is the alleged diversion of construction funds and she used another individual's contractor's license for the project without his permission.
The entire amount of restitution, including the diversion, is about $470,000, Schon said.
Thursday's proceedings were heard by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Shapero.
Schon said she will not be prosecuting the case, and just filled in for Deputy District Attorney Johnene Stebbins.
Greenwell was arrested Feb. 8 in Boulder Creek after a $100,000 warrant was issued in Santa Clara County preceded by a lengthy investigation by the Contractors State License Board.
The fraudulent $3.2 million home project enlisted investors and the investigation found that in December 2010, Greenwell and her son formed Los Gatos Group LLC to build a house in town.
Investigators found that Greenwell used her position to divert at least $46,500 in investors’ money into the bank account of another company she ran, Eagle Consulting Team, authorities said in February in a press release.
“It’s important to note that cases like this are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to the character of people in the construction industry,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands in February about the case. “This complex investigation is another example of the lengths some unscrupulous people will go to in order to take advantage of consumers.”
The CSLB operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.