Ex-president of Paso lending company pleads not guilty to grand theft

The former president of a Paso Robles lending company has pleaded not guilty to charges that she caused a loss of more than $1.3 million to numerous victims.

Linda Ann Kennedy, 50, former president of 21st Century Financial Resources Inc. in Paso Robles, entered her plea Tuesday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court to four criminal counts that include felony grand theft and 10 criminal enhancements that could strengthen her penalty if she’s convicted.

Kennedy is scheduled to appear in court before Judge Michael Duffy on Aug. 9 for a pre-preliminary hearing and on Aug. 14 for a preliminary hearing.

Her business involved pooling investors’ money to fund high-interest, high-risk loans that financed real estate development.

When she closed the firm in August 2007, the company held a $100 million real estate portfolio financed by more than 1,000 investors — many from San Luis Obispo County — who lost their money after defaults and foreclosures on properties once held in trust by the company, according to past Tribune reports.

Sometime after, Kennedy fled the Central Coast to Costa Rica, but she moved back to the area in 2011.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Kennedy was arrested July 16 in Tennessee by the La Vergne Police Department on an arrest warrant that had been issued March 23.

Her alleged crimes were committed in 2006 and 2007.