Squatter accused of forging signatures of dead couple on a fake deed. So why wasn’t she charged?

Audrey Avila investigated for six felonies in Bexar County since 2017, has never been prosecuted, records show

SAN ANTONIO – An area woman investigated in at least six felony cases in Bexar County since 2017 has never been prosecuted, leaving people who said they were victimized by her to question whether sheriff’s investigators properly handled their claims.

The woman, 31-year-old Audrey Avila, remains free despite being charged with four felonies and named in two other investigations since July 2017, in cases ranging from credit card fraud to forgery of a commercial instrument.

All four felony charges against Avila: drug possession, fraudulent use of IDs and two counts of forgery, were dismissed after prosecutors said BCSO failed to submit the necessary evidence.

In a fifth incident, investigated by BCSO investigators last fall, Avila was accused of forging the signatures of a couple who had died years earlier and falsifying a notary seal in order to fraudulently file a deed for two properties in far north Bexar County.

In October, Avila was able to convince a local real estate investor, Yoander Vmoney, that she was the rightful owner of the properties.

Vmoney then paid Avila $28,000 in exchange for the lots, according to a lawsuit later filed by Vmoney and a San Antonio Police Department incident report.

Public records, however, show at the time of the sale Avila had already been evicted from the property on Pine Eagle Lane, after a second real estate investor, Mark Anthony Ortega, had purchased the lots from their rightful owner, the son of the deceased couple.

“My own greed got in the way. I thought I had a slam dunk deal,” said Vmoney, who contacted BCSO investigators last fall after SAPD officers told him the case was out of their jurisdiction.

“They only want to work on cases where they know what to do. ‘Oh hey there’s blood involved? Great.’ That was my impression,” said Vmoney, who added that he was contacted this week by a BCSO investigator for the first time in six months, after the KSAT 12 Defenders reached out to the agency about the unprosecuted cases.

“It’s upsetting. For smaller crimes it seems like there’s a bigger action, but for something large, nobody wanted to do anything,” said Ortega, who repeatedly called BCSO last fall after he claims Avila got aggressive with him during eviction proceedings.

Public records show for years Avila claimed the side by side lots were her actual address, an assertion she took a step further in April 2019 when she filed a general warranty deed with the Bexar County Clerk’s Office stating the property had been given to her by a couple in west Texas.

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The deed included the notarized signatures of the husband and wife, even though death records show the man passed away in 2009 and his wife passed away in 2015.

The Defenders could also find no record with the Texas Secretary of State that a notary with the ID number or name listed on the deed exists.

Records show Avila was also able to file a correction deed for the property in October, since the April deed did not include the deceased woman’s last name and the deceased man’s first name had been incorrectly written as his middle name.

A chief deputy with the clerk’s office said via email last month the false deed had never been brought to their attention. She referred additional inquiries to law enforcement and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.

Avila’s name still appears in the deed history for one of the lots on the Bexar Appraisal District’s website.

BCSO officials this week said the case was still under investigation.

A history of forgery

Avila was charged with forgery after investigators in Bulverde, in Comal County, said in April 2017 she attempted to cash a $700 check through her grandfather’s bank account.

Bank employees became suspicious after the man’s signature on the check did not match the signature the bank had on file for him.

Audrey Avila was convicted of forgery in September 2018 after trying to cash a check through her grandfather's account at this Comal County bank. (KSAT)

A bank manager who reached Avila’s grandfather by phone told police the man warned her to watch out for Avila, records show.

Also, the address of the woman who supposedly wrote the check led investigators to a vacant lot with a mailbox that did not match the woman’s name, the Bulverde PD incident report confirms.

The victim in the case, who spoke with the Defenders on the condition that we not name her, said Avila may have gotten her name and personal information from an insurance company after Avila’s brother was involved in a car accident on the woman’s property.

The woman said Avila then went and had checks made with her personal information on them.

The case was eventually forwarded to the Comal County District Attorney’s Office and Avila was indicted for forgery, court records show.

In September 2018 she pleaded guilty to the charge.

A judge agreed to suspend Avila’s two-year prison sentence as long as she served five years probation and paid a $2,000 fine, according to a copy of the plea agreement.

Comal County officials confirmed a motion to revoke Avila’s probation was filed in the case in November, after she violated at least seven conditions of her community supervision.

Four failed cases in Bexar County

Months after Bulverde PD began investigating Avila for forgery, in July 2017, she was pulled over by Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies in the 1100 block of Borgfeld Drive.

Investigators said Avila had two small bags of methamphetamine on her, along with glass meth smoking pipes and other drug paraphernalia.

She was also in possession of several prescription medications and checks that she admitted at the scene were probably stolen, according to her arrest report.

BCSO investigators have charged Audrey Avila with four felonies since July 2017. All four cases have been dismissed. (KSAT)

BCSO charged her with felony drug possession and forgery of a commercial instrument.

However, Bexar County court records show the drug possession case was dismissed in January 2018 and the forgery case was dismissed in March 2018.

Dismissal records obtained by the Defenders show the cases were tossed out because the “law enforcement agency failed to submit necessary evidence.”

Court records show four felony charges against Avila were dismissed after BCSO failed to submit necessary evidence. (KSAT)

In September 2017, Avila was again taken into BCSO custody on multiple felony charges after a deputy found her walking in the roadway near Ottawa Way and Crazy Horse Drive, down the street from Pine Eagle Lane.

Avila was in possession of eight credit cards belonging to other people and multiple checks that were altered to change the last name and the dollar amount, according to her arrest report.

Avila was charged with fraudulent use of IDs and forgery of a commercial instrument, court records show.

However, in April 2018 both charges were dismissed after BCSO again failed to submit the necessary evidence, dismissal records show.

A BCSO spokeswoman this week said the agency was working with the district attorney’s office to determine exactly why the cases were tossed out.

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She said via text message Tuesday that investigators have every intention to refile the cases but have had a difficult time finding complainants.

In a sixth incident, investigated by BCSO in December, Avila was accused of opening multiple credit card accounts in another woman’s name and having her mail delivered to a different address.

A BCSO spokeswoman this week said there was insufficient evidence to charge or arrest Avila.

Court records show the only charge against Avila in Bexar County to ever make it through the justice system was a 2008 misdemeanor theft case.

Records show she was given deferred adjudication in that case in November 2008.

$28,000 in limbo

By the time Vmoney’s attorney filed the temporary restraining order in October, the $28,000 cashier’s check issued to Avila had already been withdrawn from Vmoney’s account, according to a copy of the lawsuit.

Vmoney said Avila attempted to deposit the check into a relative’s credit union account, and that he was able to serve the temporary restraining order to the credit union’s main branch before the deposit went through.

The $28,000 remains in limbo, according to Vmoney, who has already spent around $6,000 in attorney fees trying to recoup the funds.

Real estate investor Yoander Vmoney has filed a lawsuit attempting to recoup a $28,000 check given to Audrey Avila last fall. (KSAT)

Vmoney said the rushed tone Avila used to try and get the deal done fast should have been a red flag to him.

Ortega, who purchased the lots and has since resold them, said law enforcement involved in his eviction of Avila falsely told him at one point last fall that he would have to pay to store her trailer and belongings.

Real estate investor Mark Anthony Ortega walks with Dillon Collier on an undeveloped lot on Pine Eagle Lane. (KSAT)

“She was providing forms, you know, fake deeds, complete forgery of these deeds. She was providing it to them as evidence to her sad story that she’s the property owner and she bought it from the deceased owners. But the deed was entirely fake,” said Ortega, who shared footage of Avila’s belongings finally being removed from the property late last year.

Several calls made to Avila’s last known cell phone number were not returned.

Records show Avila was arrested in Bexar County in early March but released.

An official at the Bexar County Jail declined to say what address was listed for her at the time she was taken into custody.

Several addresses listed for Avila following a background check in Comal County and Bexar County turned out to be properties that were vacant, partially developed or non-existent.

About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy-nominated photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.