Updated October 2, 2018 - 7:12 pm
Shalena Earnheart, who claimed ownership of a dead woman’s Las Vegas house, has pleaded guilty to stealing the home with a forged deed and trying to take control of her estate with a forged will.
Earnheart, 27, was indicted this spring on nine counts of theft, forgery, burglary and other charges, after she filed documents last year to take control of the late Carole Barnish’s house and bank accounts.
In a plea deal last week, Earnheart pleaded guilty to one count of theft, admitting she took title to the western Las Vegas Valley home by filing a forged deed with the Clark County recorder’s office, and that she filed a forged will for Barnish’s estate, court records show.
The plea agreement calls for a suspended prison sentence of three to eight years. If her probation is not revoked due to a new felony charge, the suspended sentence will drop to two to five years.
She was removed from house arrest and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 23, court records show.
Earnheart could not be reached for comment Tuesday at a phone number she listed in court papers last year. Her attorney Arlene Heshmati, of the Clark County public defender’s office, did not respond to requests for comment.
Earnheart filed a deed for Barnish’s house at 809 Palmhurst Drive on Dec. 5, more than three months after Barnish, 71, died. She then filed a probate case for Barnish’s estate on Dec. 20, claiming in court papers that she was Barnish’s “only help” and “constant companion” for many years.
The deed showed that Barnish supposedly transferred ownership of her house to Earnheart. The probate case included a will that Barnish supposedly drew up and that gave Earnheart her bank accounts and other property.
Overall, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported in March, the situation involved forgery accusations, several calls to the police, alleged break-ins, “shady characters” trying to sell everything inside, and a court warning that things looked a little “hinky.”
The deed and the will included Barnish’s purported signatures and were supposedly stamped and signed by notaries. But Barnish’s signatures on the documents don’t match, and the notaries both said in affidavits and to the Review-Journal that they never touched the documents.
Multiple neighbors also told the Review-Journal that they had never seen or heard of Earnheart until she took title to the house. According to a longtime neighbor who had power of attorney for Barnish, Earnheart tried to sell the home “multiple times.”
The administrators of Barnish’s estate sold the one-story, 1,500-square-foot house in August to a Maryland real estate firm, property records show.
A listing on Zillow for the once-trashed home says the property has a pending offer and, pictures show, was overhauled with new paint, flooring, lighting and carpeting, a renovated kitchen and other upgrades.
Contact Eli Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.