Two Defendants Sentenced to State Prison for Mortgage Fraud of One Rincon Hill Properties

March 19, 2013

Contact: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134
ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931

SAN FRANCISCO- District Attorney George Gascón announced today that a judge sentenced Jay Shah, age 48, to 20 years in state prison, and Winston Lum, age 48, to 13 years and 4 months in state prison for their involvement in a sophisticated scheme to transfer ownership of one woman’s three condominiums at One Rincon Hill valued at $5.5 million dollars.

“Today's sentencing is the most severe punishment in the history of the San Francisco District Attorney's White Collar Division” said District Attorney George Gascón. “We are sending a message that white collar crime is a top priority for this office and will be prosecuted aggressively. In 2012 alone, our Mortgage and Investment Unit prosecuted 10 defendants responsible for defrauding over 45 victims out of over $5.5 million.”

Lum and Shah are 2 of the 5 co-conspirators (Melvin Emerich, Jay Shah, Kaushal Nirouda and Grachelle C. Languban) involved in the scheme that used an elaborate series of “confidence man” type tricks and impersonations to get inside One Rincon Hill. Once entering the building, they managed to get the keys to the units and convinced the bank to provide a large loan. Mr. Lum's role in the crime involved posing as the property owner. He then approached the bank about taking a $2.2 million dollar loan on the property. Mr. Shah made it all happen, by arranging financing and escrow services through his extensive business contacts to handle the anticipated loan. He also gave instructions on how to distribute the loan proceeds. The initial investigation revealed that most of the $2.2 million in loan money was paid to a Nevada company and deposited into a confidential Swiss bank account.

Raids were conducted simultaneously in six locations in four counties by seven law enforcement agencies in Northern California and the defendants were arrested accordingly.

After a six month trial, Jay Shah was found guilty of 13 felony counts, including grand theft, money laundering, forgery, filing forged documents, and conspiracy. He was convicted under California’s Aggravated White Collar Crime Enhancement and convicted of a strike under California’s three strikes laws. He was sentenced today to 20 years in state prison and fined over $14 million dollars. Winston Lum was found guilty of 6 of 15 felony counts including grand theft, identity theft, procuring or offering false or forged instruments for record, filing of false or forged documents related to single-family residences, attempted grand theft. He was sentenced today to 13 years and 4 months in state prison and was fined over $4.4 million dollars.

To note, Kaushal Niroula, also known as “The Dark Prince,” is currently in custody in Riverside County serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole after being convicted of murder in the first degree. Grachelle C. Languban is still an outstanding fugitive.

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