Scammer of Homeowners Gets Life in Prison
Three-strikes law takes down white-collar criminal who preyed on elderly
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2012 10:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – California's three-strikes law has produced an unusual result in Orange County: A non-violent, white-collar criminal has been sentenced to 25 years to life, reports the Los Angeles Times. But Timothy Barnett may not be getting much sympathy, given that he was convicted of swindling the elderly out of their homes. When they got into trouble during the housing crash, he swooped in with promises to help, prayed with them, and got them to unknowingly hand over their titles.

"Instead of helping people, he stripped the equity from their homes and left five people homeless," the judge said. "Even Bernie Madoff didn't take people's homes from them." Barnett's bigger problem is that he pleaded guilty to two similar charges back in the 1990s, and the recent felony conviction doomed him under state law. "Three strikes should never be used in a case like this," said his attorney, promising an appeal. "It's another reason the law should be amended."