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How a Reality TV Star who Flipped Houses on Screen Ended up in Jail for Real Estate Fraud

Charles “Todd” Hill was reportedly ordered to pay back $9.4 million in restitution to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office.
Cover Image Source: HGTV | Getty Images | Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin
Cover Image Source: HGTV | Getty Images | Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin

Reality TV is supposed to present people as their authentic selves as opposed to dramatized shows, but sometimes the on screen persona may not reveal everything about a person. A 58-year-old man who starred in a renovation competition series for HGTV was sentenced to serve four years in jail after being convicted of real estate fraud, as per the prosecutors. Charles “Todd” Hill was reportedly ordered to pay back $9.4 million in restitution to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office. After his indictment back in 2019, he was convicted of committing several fraud schemes last September after he admitted to grand theft against all victims and admitted the aggravated white-collar enhancements.

“Some see the huge amount of money in Silicon Valley real estate as a business opportunity. Others, unfortunately, see it as a criminal opportunity – and we will hold those people strictly accountable," said District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

Hill starred in one season of "Flip It to Win It," described on HGTV’s website as "a high-stakes hour" in which flippers bid against each other for abandoned houses sight unseen and work to bring them to market. He was the "Mr. Flip It" on the show, according to The Mercury News.

Back in 2014, Hill was sued by his former investor, who alleged that Hill had siphoned off money meant for renovations. Investor Max Keech said that he had funded more than 90 percent of Hill’s flipping endeavors, but that Hill had taken "money for work that was never performed."

"I made a critical mistake not looking over his shoulder," Keech said. "My money made him a celebrity. We started this before there was a TV show."

Despite denying all allegations at the time, Hill's former partner on "Flip It to Win It" chose to end their relationship due to the controversy. The reality TV star then faced arrest in 2018 following a criminal fraud investigation conducted by the district attorney’s office.

"There are allegations that he took more than $200,000 from each of four victims," the Santa Clara district attorney, Christine Garcia-Sen, overseeing the case at the time, said after his arrest. "So, there is an aggravated white collar crime enhancement that means there is a pattern of crime involving the taking of more than $500,000."

The attorney further elaborated that Hill's financial situation deteriorated, after which he resorted to manipulating financial records to falsely portray profitability. Hill allegedly established a new company and transferred assets from the original company to entice new investors, according to the attorney's statement.

As the legal proceedings unfolded, prosecutors uncovered a more extensive scope of Hill's alleged wrongdoing, revealing that he had victimized a total of 11 individuals. It is reported that he diverted investors' funds, originally designated for home purchases, to support a lavish lifestyle for himself.

In an attempt to conceal these fraudulent activities, Hill purportedly fabricated false balance sheets and secured loans using deceptive information. Evidence also suggests that he indulged in extravagant expenditures, including renting apartments in San Francisco, staying at luxury hotels, and driving high-end vehicles.