Crime

Oakhurst man may face 111 felony fraud charges

A Madera County man facing 111 felony charges in a series of alleged frauds that cost homeowners thousands of dollars was arrested Monday during a court appearance in Sacramento.

Jeff Allan McCoon, 42, of Oakhurst, who was released from custody in Colorado late last week, was arraigned on the charges in Sacramento Superior Court. The charges include false lien filings, illegal registrations and extorted money or threats against about 50 residents from January 2005 through June 2006, according to the district attorney's complaint.

During his brief court appearance, McCoon, who was free on bail, did not enter a plea.

But Judge John P. Winn ordered McCoon jailed because of questions over the legitimacy of funds McCoon had used to post part of the $500,000 bail after his initial arrest last month.

"I think that it's important that he shows that his bail is legitimate," Deputy District Attorney Keri Sternberg said after the hearing. "He's one of those people who just continues to take advantage of people."

McCoon's attorney, Clyde Blackmon, declined to comment.

Authorities in Orange County and with the Arizona Attorney General's Office say they have separate criminal cases pending against McCoon.

Last week, McCoon was arrested in Arapahoe County, Colo. He had violated his probation on a 1996 conviction for defrauding businesses of more than $400,000, records show. On Friday, he was placed on 10 years probation, an Arapahoe County court clerk said, and was allowed to travel to California.

According to Sacramento County prosecutors, McCoon operated under the guise of a credit card debt collection agency, Pacific States Credit Co. of Palm Springs.

Records show that McCoon registered the company with the California Secretary of State's Office in 1998, and that he also served as president of Sierra Consumer Acceptance Ltd., incorporated in the Bahamas.

McCoon, through Pacific States, identified residents with outstanding credit card debts using a company called Unifund, which buys debt information from banks and sells it to debt collectors, according to the affidavit for his arrest.

Sternberg said that McCoon researched individuals to find those who owned property.

He then falsified Uniform Commercial Code financial statements and filed liens with the country registrar's office and with the Sacramento Superior Court, the affidavit said.

McCoon then sent threatening letters to his victims, demanding money -- often a much larger sum than the debt -- to lift the liens, the affidavit states.

Several victims discovered the liens, Sternberg said, only when they tried to sell or refinance their homes and paid McCoon out of desperation or expediency.

"They felt they had no choice," Sternberg said.

Liens can damage credit and jeopardize a homeowner's ability to sell or refinance a home. But Sternberg said credit card debt is never secured by real estate.

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