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Property Flipper Looking at Hard Time

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A real estate broker faces up to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to an illegal property flipping scheme that netted him more than half a million dollars.

Timothy William Barnes, 37, pleaded guilty to bank fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Barnes owned and operated Apex Properties Real Estate Brokerage in San Luis Obispo.

Flipping houses is not illegal. But prosecutors say Barnes did fraudulently, negotiating a short sale with a bank, and concealing that he already had received a higher offer on houses that were under water - whose buyers owed more money on them than they were worth after the real estate crash.

"Barnes admitted that in many cases he had already negotiated the resale at the higher price while he was simultaneously negotiating the short sale of the property at the lower price," prosecutors said in the statement. He made more than $500,000 flipping properties this way in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and other cities of the Central Coast, prosecutors said.

He will be sentenced on June 16.

Sic transit Gloria mundi.

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