A fraud suspects invitation to a Boise police detective to contact her lawyer ended up doing her case more harm than good.
Detective Brad Thorne took Erika E. Giron up on her offer to call criminal defense lawyer D.C. Carr, and Carr advised Thorne that he didnt feel that Erika and Stonewater Associates were legitimate and he wasnt representing her, Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Varies said.
Varies outlined the case against Giron at a hearing last January that resulted in a warrant for her arrest.
Varies asked 4th District Judge George Hicks to set Girons bond at $100,000, but he did him one better and upped it to $150,000.
This type of financial scheme, if it turns out to be true, is very, very destructive, and people like that need to be stopped, Hicks said.
Nearly a year later, Giron, 31, sits in the Ada County Jail, accused of a rental fraud scheme that investigators say ripped off people around the country and was headquartered at least briefly in Boise.
Giron is accused of advertising herself as a real estate-savvy businesswoman who could secure rental properties for out-of-state clients. Those clients gave her down payments, police say, but she took that money and never gave them anything in return.
Dozens of victims have lost thousands of dollars, officials say.
Carr told the Idaho Statesman that he was wary of Giron after she asked him to deposit funds into an account on her behalf.
I knew it was some sort of scam, Carr said.
A deputy Ada County public defender assigned to her case, Anne Cosho, declined comment.
Giron was arrested in Maricopa County, Ariz., on Oct. 19 and brought to Idaho on Dec. 13. Shes been in the Ada County Jail since and could not be reached for comment. Her next court date is scheduled for Jan 16.
Thorne spent months tracking Giron after several people reported losing money through what Giron said was a rental-assistance company. Authorities contend that it was anything but that.
One complainant, Laura Nousiharat of Haltom City, Texas, told Thorne that shed given Giron $1,500 to secure a rental in Boise and then never heard from Giron again.
Giron is charged with grand theft in connection with that complaint. She faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted on that charge.
A review of court records and an examination of consumer reports available online show that Girons alleged fraud included victims across the country and office sites in several states.
A warning from the Washington Department of Financial Institutions in November 2009 said Girons company, Stonewater and Associates, was not licensed and may be conducting an advance-fee loan scam.
Stonewater was based in Renton, Wash., but had relocated to Lake Oswego, Ore., an affluent suburb outside of Portland, by May 2010, when a woman claiming to have lost money to Giron posted a complaint on an Internet message board.
Others commented, saying they had been victimized as well. A woman claiming to be Giron responded, saying she was not a criminal and had hired the best libel and slander lawyers available.
A special agent with the Oregon Department of Justice, Jim Williams, also posted a comment asking Giron to call him.
Its unclear whether she ever did, but Giron does not face criminal charges in Oregon, according to state court records.
Meghann M. Cuniff: 377-6418