California Court Ponders Cop's Claim He Didn't Know Destroying $705,000 Home Was Illegal

Categories: Court, Crime-iny

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San Diego cop claimed he violated California criminal law because it was too confusing to obey
A San Diego police officer and his wife--who wrecked their $705,000 Riverside County home during foreclosure as revenge against the lending bank in 2010 and won criminal convictions for the damage--have lost their attempt to overturn the case at the California Court of Appeal in Orange County.

In a ruling this week, a three-justice panel rejected the appeal by Robert Conrad Acosta and Monique Evette Acosta, who claimed they didn't know it was against the law to intentionally depreciate a lender's property by removing or damaging fixtures.

The couple left San Diego Metropolitan Credit Union with more than $166,000 in costs to restore the once "exceptional," upgrade-loaded home after they cut down a backyard tree and threw it into the pool, yanked out plants, spray painted fixtures inside the home, wrecked a toilet with black dye, used a sledgehammer to mutilate a staircase and a Whirlpool hot tub in the backyard, cracked pipes, ruined the pool, smashed electrical outlets, cut wires, shattered tiles, pummeled walls, destroyed a fireplace and, using a semi-truck, hauled away light fixtures, countertops, kitchen cabinet doors, appliances, a bar, wood ceiling beams, window shutters, carpets, three chandeliers, two air conditioning units, 12 interior doors, cypress trees and the garage door.

A witness who saw the damage called it "total destruction," and the bank ended up selling the property for just $178,500.

According to court records, the sabotage occurred after the brilliant female part of this classy duo memorialized the plot in a pre-eviction email to a bank representative and declared the home would be left in good condition only if they paid her $10,000 for the keys to the French Valley residence.

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The male portion of the duo, the aforementioned police officer, initially respond to law enforcement investigators by trying to act surprised by the wreckage and missing items, but that didn't work because officers learned he'd offered the items for sale in a Craigslist ad.

Then, Acosta claimed he'd been "under the impression" he could legally remove house fixtures, but that didn't work either because as the appellate justices noted: there's a 91-year-old California law prohibiting such acts.

Then, he argued that the related law had been too confusing for him to understand.

Santa Ana-based justices Raymond J. Ikola, Kathleen E. O'Leary and Richard D. Fybel were not impressed.

"We reject defendants' contention," they wrote in a 21-page, May 12 ruling. "A person of common intelligence can understand [the law] forbids a borrower from intentionally harming a lender by removing or disposing of items attached or affixed as improvements to the encumbered property."

Upshot: A jury's verdicts of guilt as well as a judge's punishment of 270 days each in jail plus probation for five years remain valid.

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Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.

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30 comments
elenoreflores
elenoreflores

Stupid vs. Evil.  The victim was the bank, oooh my heart bleeds, yeah right.  Good.  They were just as criminal at the time as the people who destroyed the property.  That's what the bank gets for financing people they should have never financed for a home that cost nearly a million dollars!  I thought it was cool to see someone make things a little inconvenient for the bankers.  It was stupid of them but maybe they were planning ahead in getting free room, board and food provided for almost a year.  Most likely they were just stupid enough to think nothing would happen to them for doing what they did, who cares.  That's on them. 

slslady1
slslady1

I've seen it done before. An absolutely gorgeous model home stripped of everything. You walked into see a beautiful curved staircase nice sized Living room and then walked into the kitchen area that all the cabinets, countertops, sink and appliances were ripped out. They had even pulled out the can lights! They were caught when they were taking out the bath vanities and the 70 gal. water heater. They had already remove the furnace and a/c units. I hope they got a lot of jail time because it was heartbreaking. 

949girl
949girl topcommenter

What a terrible set of parents these two must be.  I googled them and there is actually a photo of her chopping down a tree near the pool.  She was literally photographed in the act with a young toddler (her daughter) nearby.  The photos of the house that are online do show extensive damage. 

949girl
949girl topcommenter

That "classy" couple sounds like they deserve each other.  You have to be a real lowlife to do what they did.  Why take the time and effort to intentionally destroy your home that you couldn't afford.  From all the damage they did that sounds like they spent a very significant amount of time destroying the house and yard.  The sad thing is that one spouse wasn't decent enough of a person to nix the other spouses crazy scheme.  That's the scary part.  Have fun in jail losers and I really hope he never works in law enforcement ever again.

Kevin Norkus
Kevin Norkus

THey should put the people (MORTGAGE BROKERS) like CountryWide, BOFA Scam that gave him a loan he couldn;t afford anyway!!!

WideStance
WideStance

If the jail sentence wouldn't 'foreclose' the possibility of a future LE career, I wonder if the 'OK to break a law I couldn't understand, right?" defense would do it?

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Cops, deputies and/or federal agents operating in Orange County, CA don't seem to understand that hiring criminal civilians to scratch car paint, puncture tires and smash front passenger car windows is also considered a crime. It doesn't help that they are enabled by one of the most disgraceful County level criminal justice systems in this nation's history.

So this cops attitude is just a natural extension of his profession.

Tiffany Speed Blay
Tiffany Speed Blay

That's what happens when banks give loans and put people in houses they can't afford. I hope they learned a lesson. They're lucky more people didn't do this when everyone was losing their homes to foreclosure for the same reason. Am I supposed to feel sorry for the bank? I don't. But I also don't agree with this couple's actions.

David Tanaka
David Tanaka

not the behavior I expect from a Police officer even off duty

Yana Moreno Rodriguez
Yana Moreno Rodriguez

So the couple destroyed a $705,000 home, causing over $166,000 in repair costs, and the bank had to sell it for $178,500? Is it me or the math isn't adding up? And are they being punished for the $166,000 they caused in damages, or the difference in the value of the home and the selling price?

Jonathan Barlow
Jonathan Barlow

Finally commonsense prevails for the court system it's a miracle !!!!

Claire Morgan
Claire Morgan

It's great to see someone who was tasked with upholding the law claim to be incapable of understanding it. That should be a basic job requirement

Janie Bonfanti
Janie Bonfanti

This couple is insane! Justice prevailed in the end.

Jose O Maldonado
Jose O Maldonado

The part of the story I don't believe : That a house in Riverside would be worth $705,000. Lol

Moises Salazar
Moises Salazar

Really? Breaking shit that is not yours is ok? He make a living arresting people who do. What is there to ponder on the courts side?

Jason Roberson
Jason Roberson

If cops in California can now legally beat an unarmed man on video to death what does a house matter? But then again it is stepping on the toes of their corporate masters.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Underneath every police uniform lurks a sociopathic criminal

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

People are so strange.  I found camera equipment, sports memorabilia, autographs, current tax documents, old family photos, and cash money left behind in the home mortgage implosion, but I never saw someone intentionally damage a property.  Sure, most were incompetent, messy, and had no business owning their own home, but they left peacefully.  The worst thing I witnessed was a neighbor stole the garage door opener.  

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

The only part of the sentence I disagree with is there's nothing requiring mental health treatment for both of the defendants.  


reroe13
reroe13

not enough jail time, a cop will tell you that not knowing the law is no excuse

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@20ftjesus Hmm I always assumed people would rip out the copper pipes, sell the dishwasher, fridge, etc.

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

@vegandawg23  Oh yah, I did see a missing range and microwave once but those get replaced anyway.  And I wasn't counting the crack den my friend tried to sell me.

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