“The Con of San Juan?” Burning Questions about Capistrano’s Derek Reeve.




With wife Jocelyn Ragsdale.

Editor’s note:  You wanna post negative stuff about a politician on this blog without using your name?  It’ll have to be as well documented as this story is, and so will your fear of reprisal, which does check out, from this vengeful politician, this Derek Reeve, just re-elected for a third term on San Juan Capistrano’s City Council.

Derek’s commented on this blog a few times – we share a common enemy in cutthroat Newport consultant Dave Ellis.  Wheelchair-bound and suffering from some degenerative illness, Derek was first elected to council in 2010 as a “tea-partier.”  We realize “tea-partier” could mean almost anything.  In Derek’s case, he was the kind who showed his contempt for San Juan Capistrano’s Muslims by naming his dog Muhammad, something he’s refused to apologize for in these nine years. 

According to our SJC friends, he also came into office as a champion of neighborhoods and foe of over-development, but since being re-elected in 2014 (and now again in 2018) with developer dollars, has made an about-face on all his promises, and now never says no to new development and re-zoning in one of California’s oldest most historic communities.

But this here is mainly a story about the shameless grifting of Derek and his wife Jocelyn Ragsdale.  I give you “The Swallows”…


When first elected in 2010, Derek Reeve was considered a “good-guy councilman” by many who counted on him to protect SJC from over-development, more traffic, etc. After he was re-elected in 2014 however, he turned to the dark side by teaming up with developers, and betrayed his constituents (and his friends) by breaking his campaign promises to protect San Juan. No surprise there; such is politics. During the recent SJC city council campaign, however, info surfaced which did take many by surprise, mostly in regards to his 2010 “marriage.”

Despite having gone through an elaborate wedding in 2010, self-described “husband, father, family man” Derek Reeve is most definitely not married to the woman he claims is his wife, Jocelyn Ragsdale. (No record of a legal marriage exists.) Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but Ragsdale is the widow of a veteran, and if she re-married, she would no longer be entitled to survivor’s benefits from the Veterans Administration/social security. This, as it turns out, may be a very big deal, because Ragsdale defrauded the VA in order to buy an investment rental property, using her deceased husband’s VA benefits.

No-down, low cost VA loans are intended to help veterans buy a home to live in, not to purchase rental investment property. As a result, VA loans require buyers to live at the property as their primary residence for at least a year, beginning within two months of purchase. But Ragsdale already had a primary residence, having lived full time with Reeve since 2010. Reeve added her to the title of his home in January, 2015, listing her as a widowed “single woman” in an “inter-family transfer”. Documents show that Ragsdale purchased the rental property at the end of October 2015, listed it for rent in January 2016, and rented it out from Feb 2016 to May 2018, when she sold it for a profit of $235,000.

A local non-profit group, HomeFront America, with whom the City has a joint agreement to provide charitable support services to military families, received a letter from Reeve recently, sent from his City Council email address, accusing them of releasing the negative info about him during the campaign, and threatening their status with the city for allegedly releasing it. HomeFront America had no knowledge of the VA loan fraud, and were incensed that Reeve used his council position to issue a not-so-veiled threat about their status with the City being jeopardized by an alleged action for which he had no proof, and which they adamantly insist is false. They confronted him during a recent council meeting:

And here is a video clip of WWII Navy veteran Art Hasselbrink, confronting Reeve at the same council meeting. Note that Reeve does not respond to the charge: 

Judging by past behavior, Ragsdale is likely also collecting taxpayer-funded benefits for being Reeve’s full-time caretaker as well ($3,000/month), although that info is private so there is no way to verify it.

But WAIT – there’s more…

Reeve said back in 2016 that “their” two kids (in reality, Ragsdale’s kids) were receiving free “low income assistance” tuition at Saddleback Valley Christian School, a private school which costs about $12,000 to $13,000 per year per student. They attended SVCS for at least three (maybe four) years, before transferring this Fall to the also private J Serra Catholic High School. Given her history, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether she is getting “low-income assistance” for her boys to attend J Serra too (The cost is around $15,000 per year, per student). We swallows wonder if they know that she, unlike many families, owned two homes, one of which she derived rental income from before selling for a profit of $235,000, and that she is likely collecting significant taxpayer-funded benefits as a “widow”, while Reeve claims she is his wife. we’re guessing not.

Both schools have benefited from Reeve’s term on the council, as both were in need of city approvals for expansion (in SVCS’ case) and in J Serra’s case, Reeve voted to approve amenities previously denied them by the city (because they are considered intrusive by the surrounding neighborhoods). None of the free tuition has been reported on Reeve’s form 760’s.  No doubt his defense would be that they’re not legally his kids, but that rings hollow when he has spent the past 8 years publicly pontificating about fatherhood, about “his children”, about how proud he is of his wife and kids, etc., ad nauseam – for eight years.

Estimates of what Ragsdale is raking in from the taxpayers is likely between $5,000 to $6,000 per month, possibly more, but there is no way to verify it without access to her tax returns.

Announcement of the happy “wedding” – click for larger image

In addition to the loan fraud, we wonder if the happy couple have given back any of the wedding gifts they accepted from the 60 guests at their fake wedding, or from any of the 30 guests who attended the fake shower thrown for Jocelyn (which neither the hosts nor guests knew were fake until recently).  We’re guessing not.

We don’t know about you, but we think that what Reeve and Ragsdale have done/are doing is outrageous. Not only have they not paid a price for their frauds, but Reeve was just rewarded with re-election to a third term after developers poured tons of money into his campaign. The developers are sure to be paid back with much-desired development approvals. Taxpayers and SJC residents… not so much.

By the way, did we mention that Reeve is a lawyer, who calls himself a “constitutional attorney”? 

Much more to come, in the coming weeks and months, regarding the “Con of San Juan” and his cohorts! 

– Love, The Swallows.



About The Swallows

Concerned citizens of San Juan Capistrano who've been raising hell down there for decades.