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Valencia man found guilty of swindling

• Norman Keating faces 104 months in state prison

Posted: June 6, 2008 1:33 a.m.
Updated: August 7, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Norman Keating is pictured in this February 2007 photo.

 

A Valencia man was found guilty of nine felony counts for using an advertiser-driven, cartoonish map to swindle money from local businesses and consumers, officials announced Thursday.

Norman Keating, 40, faces a maximum of 104 months in state prison after a two-week trial ended in a guilty verdict in a San Fernando courtroom.

He was charged with grand theft, grand theft by expired access card, possession of a completed check with intent to defraud, commercial burglary and unauthorized use of a credit card.

The criminal case focused on Keating's Santa Clarita Valley-based business of producing cartoon-like maps that highlight various businesses in a given community.

Keating's "Xpresstoon Maps" made several misrepresentations about products to businesses that bought advertisements.

The business model included production of oversized city maps that featured major roads and highways. Several structures and billboards were drawn along those roads, highlighting the approximate locations of various businesses, advertisements and landmarks.

For a business location to be featured on the map, which was to be drawn with cartoon-like images, it was required to pay an advertising fee to Keating. Once the map was produced, Keating promised advertisers he would distribute the maps to consumers, claiming that the product would help divert customers to their business.

However, many businesses accused Keating of never following through on his promises, despite paying him tens of thousands of dollars to advertise with him.

Based on the numerous complaints, authorities were able to pursue an investigation of potential fraud.

Keating was arrested Nov. 15 at his Valencia home following the investigation by the Sheriff Department's Commercial Crimes Bureau, North Fraud Team.

He originally faced 18 felony charges, though District Attorney's spokeswoman Sandra Gibbons confirmed that nine of the charges were dismissed.

This was not Keating's first brush with the law. Prior to moving to California, he was convicted of four felonies in Florida, where he is currently a fugitive. Florida must agree to extradite him before he can be arrested on those fugitive charges in California.

A sentencing hearing was scheduled for July 1 in Dept. G of the San Fernando Superior Court.

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