Fire Victim Scammer Pleads Not Guilty

Penny Estes Denies 25 Felony Charges Against Her

Penny Estes, the “green” construction contractor who allegedly scammed 10 Santa Barbara homeowners who lost their houses in wildfires out of millions of dollars, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to all 25 felony charges against her.

Estes’s charges — which carry enhancements that she targeted senior citizens and fire victims — include grand theft, obtaining services by false pretenses, diversion of construction funds, and several tax violations. A number of fire victims had contracted Estes and her construction company, Green Building America, to rebuild their houses with eco-friendly materials, but Estes allegedly spent much of their money on personal items and travel expenses.

Her public defender, Brian Mathis, did not comment on her plea. Estes has been held in custody since she was arrested in San Bernardino on June 4 and is set to return to court on October 14 for a preliminary hearing.

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