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Long Prison Terms Issued To 2 Men In Complex SF Real Estate Scam

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Two men convicted of a complicated scam involving  San Francisco's One Rincon Hill luxury residential tower were sentenced on Tuesday long terms in state prison.

Jay Shah, 48, was ordered Tuesday morning by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charlene Kieselbach to serve a 20-year term and pay a fine of $14.1 million -- twice the amount taken in the scam.

A co-conspirator, 48-year-old Winston Lum, was also sentenced to more than 13 years in prison and fined $4.4 million.

"This was a fantastical web of lies and fraud orchestrated by Mr. Shah," the judge said, adding that he showed "a high degree of callousness" in duping the various victims.

Prosecutors said Shah and Lum were part of a group that allegedly 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 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 Tuesday 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 spoke only briefly during the sentencing to answer a judge's question, and shook his head repeatedly as she spoke about his alleged crimes.

SF Judge Sentences 2 Men In Complicated Real Estate Fraud Case

Along with the $14.1 million fine, he will also be required to pay $3 million to the various victims, the judge said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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