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Nightmare tenants check into SCV Sheriff's Station jail

Posted: January 19, 2010 12:51 p.m.
Updated: January 19, 2010 2:27 p.m.
 
A husband and wife were arrested in Valencia this morning after a lengthy investigation involving identity theft.

It was finally discovered that this couple who provide false documentation, fail to pay their rent, and fight being evicted, have been playing this scam over and over again. They have victimized at least three Valencia apartment complexes and have been residing here rent free for the past four years. Their three children attend local schools.

The scam worked well, but this time they got caught. The Town Center Apartment manager contacted the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station regarding a check written on a fraudulent checking account.

Investigation revealed that the Social Security number provided belonged to another person. Several names which have been used were uncovered and it became apparent that this couple had scammed this complex in the past, under different names.

Tuesday morning, detectives from the Burglary/Fraud team went to the apartment and served a search warrant, ultimately arresting the couple, Rodney Higgs, a 42-year-old man, and Shonte Johnston, a 39-year-old woman, for identity theft and grand theft.

An adult son, Diamonique Reyes, 20, who was visiting, was arrested for interfering in the arrest and investigation. The couple have three other children: an 18-year-old, who was not at the apartment this morning, having already left for school; and two minor children, ages 15 and 13, who were taken into protective custody.

Higgs is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail and Johnston is being held in lieu of $20,000. Both are being held at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. Reyes is being held pending positive identification. The minor children were released to the Department of Children and Family Services.

Detectives believe this scam has been used on other unsuspecting apartment complexes in the area.

Rodney Higgs is known to have used the following names in the past: Cameron Davis, Branden Higgs, Amaurie Johnston, and Branden Trevon.

Shonte Johnston is known to have used the name Shonte Higgs in the past.

Property owners or others who think they may have been victims of Higgs and/or Johnston are urged to contact Detective Nale at (661) 799-5137 or (661) 255-1121.

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