Carla Ann Brennan, who vaulted to first runner-up in one of last year's Ugly Police Mugshot of the Week lists with the pose at right, was sentenced to seven years in state prison after pleading guilty today to stealing $262,000 from at least five unsuspecting students by taking loans out in their names under the guise of assisting them with getting money for college. She was also ordered to pay nearly $262,000 in restitution, $31,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board and $524,000 in fines to the County of Orange.
The 63-year-old Laguna Hills divorcee is used to court-ordered payback orders, having used $88,000 from the $262,000 she stole not for plastic surgery (obviously) but to begin funding restitution from a 2008 tax-fraud case.
Two years earlier, she and then-husband Anthony Brennan were charged with filing false tax returns and making false financial statements. While the case was still being investigated, the couple paid $100,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board of the $188,000 they owed in unpaid taxes and penalties. They also divorced. On July 31, 2008, they pleaded guilty to the charges against them and were given probation and ordered to perform community service and repay the remaining restitution.
But, before the guilty pleas, Brennan launched her scam where she "helped" five students, ages 17 to 23, that she met through her children obtain college loans.
After getting the students' personal identifying information--names, addresses, Social Security numbers, birth dates, phone numbers, etc.--she convinced them to sign loan documents they really didn't understand. Brennan stole the identities of two more people that she used as co-signers on the loan documents. One, a friend of her son, was a U.S. Marine Corps Iraq war veteran.
The students got checks in the mail ranging from between $19,000 and $30,000, some of which bore the names of the students and others of the co-signers. Brennan then met each student at a Mission Viejo bank, having them sign checks in the teller's presence and then having the teller cash the checks or issue a cashiers check. Brennan gave each student $1,000 to $2,000 and kept the rest--$262,000 in all.
Months later, the students received notices to repay their loans. When they contacted Brennan, she told them not to worry, that she was taking care of it. She didn't and all the loans ultimately went into default under the names of the students and the co-signers.
Brennan's scheme was un-done when one student stopped calling her and contacted the Orange County Sheriff's Department instead.
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She pleaded guilty today to five felony counts of grand theft, five felony counts of money laundering, two felony counts of identity theft, one felony count of filing a false tax return, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, loss over $100,000, and crime-bail-crime. The enhancement for crime-bail-crime indicates that Brennan was out of custody on bail in another criminal case at the time of the crime.