SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Penn Estes was sentenced to 11 years and 8 months in prison after scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars from homeowners who lost their house to fire.
"I lost over half a million dollars in my insurance money and lost basically everything," Nancy Keltner said. "I've now lost my property as well as a result of this."
Estes pleaded guilty to all charges against her and a judge handed down the sentence on Wednesday.
The courtroom was filled with victims as Estes walked in, hands bound in chains and wearing her orange prison clothing. Estes sat quietly as victims came forward and confronted her for the first time.
"Whether it's an orphanage, whether it's a blind widow who lost her husband, it doesn't matter to her," said Bill Koonce, who lost his home in the Jesusita fire. "What she did was just so awful."
Estes took insurance money from people who lost their homes in the Tea and Jesusita fires. She promised to rebuild their homes even if insurance money wouldn't cover all the costs but disappeared after taking their money.
Estes made a short statement to the court and her victims, offering a tearful apology and placing most of the blame on those who worked with her. The judge wasn't buying it, calling Estes a crook who was only sorry she got caught.