Jodie Foster's father guilty over home scam

LOS ANGELES, December 7, 2011 (AFP) - Jodie Foster's estranged father was found guilty Wednesday of a property scam in which he touted his relation to his famous daughter to lure customers to part with money.

Lucius Fisher Foster III, 89, faces more up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced Thursday, after a jury took three hours to convict him. Judge Gregory A. Dohi remanded him in custody, saying he would face jail.

He was found guilty on 21 counts of grand theft and nine of contracting without a license after allegedly cheating nearly two dozen investors out of more than $100,000.

Foster, who is estranged from his daughter, offered to build homes for 20 alleged victims in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, after contacting them through his own property website or referrals from realtors.

He "told at least half the victims that he is Jodie's father as part of the scam to build up trust," Deputy City Attorney Don Cocek told the court during the trial.

Each alleged victim gave Foster a deposit of $5,000 and received a contract for their home to be build, "but no house was ever built," said the prosecutor.

Foster said he wanted to be sentenced as soon as possible so that he could get out of jail and pay back the victims.

"We're going to get it (the money) back to them," Foster said. "If it takes two or three years out of my life ... I'm an old man, I want to be alive when I get out," he said.

He remains estranged from his famous daughter. "If you had a bad guy in your family, wouldn't you draw walls around him?" he said before the verdict was announced.

A publicist for Jodie Foster, star of "The Silence of the Lambs," "Panic Room" and "Contact," did not immediately respond to a request for comment.