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L.A. firefighter, ex-girlfriend plead not guilty in scam

September 17, 2009 |  8:51 pm

A Los Angeles city firefighter and part-time real estate broker pleaded not guilty today to charges that he and his former girlfriend orchestrated a real estate scam in Hacienda Heights.

Brent Lamont Mathews, 43, is charged with six counts of forgery, three counts of attempting to file a false or forged document and two counts of grand theft. His girlfriend at the time, Joi Rochelle Smith, 33, also pleaded not guilty today to the same charges, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.

Mathews allegedly put his name on the title of a Hacienda Heights property without the owner's knowledge or consent through a series of forgeries and false filings, prosecutors said.

Mathews allegedly then went on to defraud two investors last year after recruiting them as partners to "flip" the house, the district attorney's office said.

The two victims lost $146,000 in the deal, prosecutors said. Smith, a notary public, notarized key documents used in the scam, prosecutors allege.

If convicted, Mathews and Smith could each be sentenced to 11 years in state prison.

—Robert J. Lopez