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Investigation leads to guilty plea from couple

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SACRAMENTO - A couple who ran a multimillion dollar scam bilking hundreds of seniors across 10 states pled guilty to several felony counts including burglary, grand theft, theft from an elder and other charges. Michael Woodward, 50, and his wife Melissa Woodward, 47, entered guilty pleas in a San Diego courtroom for their roles in scamming more than 230 San Diego area senior citizens out of nearly $2 million.

The Woodwards were arrested on April10 in Las Vegas and extradited to San Diego for prosecution by the San Diego District Attorney's Office. For more than a decade the Woodwards ran a $6 million scam while operating under numerous aliases and bogus businesses by selling fraudulent in-home non-medical senior service contracts. The couple targeted seniors by telling them that for a pre-paid annual fee they would get an unlimited amount of non-medical services.

"The guilty pleas and court-ordered restitution provide a fitting end to the reprehensible crimes committed by this couple," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "A measure of justice has been granted to these victimized seniors and their loved ones that were impacted by the egregious acts of the Woodwards."

In addition to the guilty pleas, the court ordered the Woodwards to pay $3,064,316 in restitution to their victims in California. The guilty pleas and restitution are the result of a joint investigation between the San Diego District Attorney's Insurance Fraud and Elder Abuse offices and the California Department of Insurance, which revealed that the Woodwards routinely failed to provide services they promised. In expensive claims such as requests for house cleaning were often paid, but when victims made claims that were more expensive, the Woodwards rejected the claim. They also returned to victims' homes to collect additional premiums that were far above the original quoted cost of the plan.

Officials are asking anyone who suspect they or someone they know have been victimized, to call the Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357 (HELP).

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