Suspicious Circumstances Surrounding Elderly Montecito Resident’s Murder Get More Mysterious

Violet Evelyn Alberts, 96, Had Been Targeted in Alleged Real Estate Fraud Scheme Months Before Her Death

Violet Evelyn Alberts | Credit: Courtesy

The mysterious and suspicious circumstances surrounding the suspected homicide of 96-year-old Montecito resident Violet Evelyn Alberts this May just got more mysterious and suspicious. During last week’s Board of Supervisors hearing on the status of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud task force, it came out that Alberts had been targeted in an alleged real estate fraud scheme concocted by Pauline Macareno, a Porter Ranch real estate operator, a few months prior to Alberts’s demise. Moreover, it was revealed Alberts had filed legal action against Macareno in March of this year. 

Macareno is currently being held in Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of identity theft, forgery, theft from an elder, and burglary, all involving a change of title Macareno allegedly had effectuated on Alberts’s $4 million Montecito residence. These crimes allegedly took place between September 2020 and March 2022. Sheriff’s investigators are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Alberts’s death. No related charges have been filed against Macareno. Alberts lived alone and the circumstances of her death were deemed to be “suspicious” by sheriff’s investigators who found her body early on the morning of May 27. In July, the Sheriff’s Office announced it was treating her death as a homicide.

How Alberts’s path crossed with Macareno’s remains unclear, but at some point Macareno reportedly transferred the title of Alberts’s home to a new entity — Violet Evelyn Alberts LLC — reportedly without Alberts’s knowledge or consent. It was that action that gave rise to Alberts’s lawsuit against Macareno. 

Initially, Macareno had been released on $1 million bail for the identity theft and fraud allegations, but on August 8, The Bail Boys Bail Bonds revoked her bail; as a result, Macareno remains in custody. According to a court document filed by The Bail Boys, Macareno repeatedly failed to check in with the bail company daily, a condition of the bail. The defendant was “explicitly reminded” of her responsibility to do so no fewer than seven times. 

Another red flag, according to the bail agent Atiana Duran, was that Macareno had initially used a North Hills property for her bail collateral that was listed as the business address for Violet Evelyn Alberts LLC, the very entity by which the allegedly fraudulent conveyance had taken place. Duran expressed concern about using property associated with the alleged victimization of Alberts as bail collateral against charges of real estate fraud and identity theft. 

Duran also speculated that Macareno had sought to conceal this property’s murky association with that alleged fraud from the bail bond company by submitting an application to substitute another property as collateral. In this case, the substitute property, a Santa Paula garage, was already in financial default. 

Macareno is now represented by criminal defense attorney Ron Bamieh, who explained he’d only just received the discovery documents and could not comment other than to say he’d “do a hell of a job” representing his client. 

Correction: Atiana Duran is the correct name of the bail agent, not Diana Duran as previously reported.

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