INDIO, Calif. - A Desert Hot Springs woman who rented out a Palm Desert home that didn't belong to her pleaded guilty today to a felony grand theft charge and was immediately sentenced to three years probation.
Lisa Marie Peirson, 40, drafted lease agreements under a false name last year for a home on Hedgehog Street and took a $1,500 deposit from renters. The residence actually belonged to a woman living in the Bay Area, according to prosecutors.
Deputies were alerted last March when the owner called from San Francisco and said her neighbors had informed her that strangers were moving items into her home, according to an arrest warrant declaration. The homeowner told investigators that no one should be in the home, as the previous tenant had moved out two months prior.
One of three people who were moving into the home told deputies that she had paid Peirson -- who went by Maria Maldonado -- the deposit, and also signed a lease agreement, the declaration states.
The renter told deputies that she tried to subsequently contact Maldonado to pay their first month's rent and get a water heater replaced, but was unable to reach her. It was later revealed that Peirson was in custody at the time on an unrelated matter, but was released before deputies could contact her in connection with the Palm Desert investigation.
Sheriff's investigators said the lease agreement Peirson executed had "several'' discrepancies, including misspelling the name of the actual homeowner. The renter also gave deputies the license plate number for Maldonado's vehicle, which turned out to be registered to Lisa Marie Peirson.
Prosecutors charged her with grand theft and a warrant was issued for her arrest last summer. She was arrested out of the county and was booked into the Riverside County jail in Indio last Monday.