Two men convicted last September for a complicated scam at San Francisco’s One Rincon Hill luxury condominium tower were both sentenced today to lengthy state prison terms, prosecutors said.
Jay Shah, 48, received a 20-year sentence and Winston Lum, also 48, was sentenced to a term of 13 years and four months in prison. Shah was also fined $14.1 million while Lum was fined more than $4.4 million, according to the district attorney’s office.
Prosecutors said the pair were part of a group that filed false documents to put condos at One Rincon Hill under a co-conspirator’s name, then took out loans against the properties, drained them of their equity and laundered the money through shell companies.
Another co-defendant in the case–Kaushal Niroula, who was dubbed the “Dark Prince” for his role in the scam and other cases, including a killing in Riverside County–was found guilty of that murder and sentenced to life in prison.
A San Francisco Superior Court jury hung on charges against a fourth defendant, Melvin Emerich, while a fifth alleged scammer, Grachelle Languban, remains at large and authorities believe she may have fled to the Philippines.
Shah posted bail and fled just before his Sept. 19 conviction on 13 felony counts of grand theft, money laundering and other fraud charges. He was found in Watsonville and arrested weeks later, prosecutors said.
Shah’s attorney today asked for a reduced sentence, citing health concerns for the wheelchair-bound Shah and the impact a long prison sentence would have on his family.
But Assistant District Attorney Sandip Patel said, “He didn’t consider his family when he committed the crimes.”
Shah, who remains in custody, spoke only briefly during the sentencing to answer a judge’s question, and shook his head repeatedly as she spoke about his alleged crimes.
Several of his family members attended today’s hearing and were allowed to hug him after the sentencing. They declined to comment to reporters outside of court except one who said, “It’s all wrong.”
Judge Charlene Kieselbach said the case involved “a fantastical web of lies and fraud” and criticized Shah for “a high degree of callousness” and “cold-hearted cunning” in duping the various victims.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News