Claremont woman, 89, to recover home swindled by self-proclaimed church leader, authorities say
An 89-year-old Claremont woman and stroke victim whose home was swindled by a self-proclaimed church bishop will be able to recover her property under a ruling issued Monday by a Superior Court judge in Pomona, according to authorities.
Judge Steven Blades granted a motion by prosecutors to void two grant deeds for the home owned by the woman, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said in a statement.
"The objective of this motion was to free up this 89-year-old stroke victim's property so that she could use her equity to execute a reverse mortgage as she has no substantial means of support and requires constant medical care," Deputy Dist. Atty. James Daloisio said in the statement.
The woman's name was not released. Prosecutors said her home had been paid in full before she was tricked into signing over a grant deed under a ruse to secure Medicare and Social Security benefits.
Leroy Dowd, 74, who called himself a bishop and operated the now-defunct Triumph Church of God in South Los Angeles, was charged with forging the grant deed signed by the victim, prosecutors said. Dowd then executed a second grant deed for a straw buyer, who borrowed $800,000 on the property.
Dowd, who met the victim through his church, pleaded guilty in May 2010 to one count of grand theft of personal property and was sentenced to three years in state prison, prosecutors said. He was also ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution.
— Robert J. Lopez