U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of California
(619) 557-5610
October 16, 2014

Couple Who Lost Home in Witch Creek Fire Indicted on Fraud Charges

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)

SUMMARY OF CHARGES Count 1: Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 (Conspiracy)

  • Maximum penalty: Five 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: Five years of custody; $250,000 Fine

AGENCY

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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