It took a Santa Maria jury just over 20 minutes to return a guilty verdict on Tuesday in the case of Nicholas Baucom, a 30-year-old man who had tried to help himself to someone else’s home a number of times. Baucom had forged signatures and a notary stamp on deed transfer papers, and when he tried to get the fake real estate transaction recorded, the clerk at the County Recorder’s Office “did a great job of fending him off,” said prosecuting attorney Casey Nelson, an attorney with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit. Baucom approached the clerk three times during his attempts, and the clerk noticed irregularities in the signatures and the notary stamp each time. “They looked not quite right,” said Nelson.
The owner of the home lived out of the area, and Baucom had been squatting in the vacant home, according to the DA’s Office press release. He had been charged in 2012 for the same type of forgery in Brooklyn and found guilty. At the end of the week-long trial in Santa Maria, Baucom was found guilty on eight felony counts, involving commercial burglary, attempting to record a forged deed, and forgery of a deed and of a notary stamp. He faces up to seven years, eight months in prison; sentencing is scheduled for August 25.