You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 16, 2014

Couple Who Lost Home In Witch-Creek Fire Indicted For Fraud

San Diego, CA - United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced that Deborah and Douglas Tumlinson of Valley Center were arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal on a ten-count indictment for various fraud charges they allegedly orchestrated after losing their home in the 2007 Witch Creek fire.

In October 2007, the Tumlinsons’ home in Ramona was destroyed by wildfire. The Tumlinsons originally joined a class-action lawsuit against San Diego Gas & Electric (“SDG&E”) to recoup losses from the fire. The indictment alleges that although the Tumlinsons did not enter a settlement with SDG&E, they obtained a loan from U.S. Claims, a funding company, by falsely claiming they had reached a settlement and promising to use the settlement funds as collateral. They were later sued by U.S. Claims for not making any payments on the loan.

The indictment also charges that the Tumlinsons took the proceeds from the U.S. Claims loan and laundered over $500,000 to purchase a new house in Valley Center. Next, the Tumlinsons allegedly made material misrepresentations on a loan application to Seaside Funding, Inc., a Carlsbad mortgage broker company, to obtain a $250,000 home equity loan on their new Valley Center home. They also failed to repay the Seaside Funding loan.

Finally, the Tumlinsons filed for bankruptcy three times, but are accused of intentionally failing to list the outstanding loan debt to U.S. Claims on their bankruptcy petitions.

The Tumlinsons are scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino for a motion hearing on November 14, 2014.


DEFENDANT   Case Number: 14CR2978-JLS
Deborah Tumlinson Age: 43 (Counts 1-9)   
Douglas Tumlinson Age: 40 (Counts 1, 3-8, 10)
CHARGES
Count 1:          Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 (Conspiracy)
Maximum penalty: 5 years of custody; $250,000 Fine
Count 2:          Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 (Wire Fraud)   
Maximum penalty: 20 years of custody; $250,000 Fine
Counts 3-4:     Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 (Mail Fraud)   
Maximum penalty: 20 years of custody; $250,000 Fine
Count 5:          Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 (Bank Fraud)  
Maximum penalty: 30 years of custody; $150,000 Fine
Count 6:          Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1014 (False Statement on Loan Application)          
Maximum penalty: 30 years of custody; $1,000,000 Fine
Count 7:          Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1957 (Money Laundering)  
Maximum penalty: 10 years of custody; $250,000 Fine
Counts 8-10:   Title 18, United States Code, Sections 152(3) (Bankruptcy Fraud) 
Maximum penalty: 5 years of custody; $250,000 Fine
 
INVESTIGATING AGENCY

Federal Bureau of Investigation

*Indictments and complaints are not evidence that the defendant committed the crime charged. 
All defendants are presumed innocent until the United States meets its burden in court of proving
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
     

Updated July 23, 2015