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A man found guilty in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday of felony grand theft, money laundering and other fraud charges remains on the loose today, prosecutors said. Jay Shah, 48, posted $7.5 million bail and then failed to appear when the verdict was read in court. A jury found Shah guilty of 13 felony counts that could lead to a sentence of more than 35 years in prison, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. The jury also found Shah’s co-defendant, 48-year-old Winston Lum, guilty on Wednesday of six felony counts of filing false documents and grand theft. Lum remains in custody. The pair and three other people allegedly developed a complicated scam to transfer control of a woman’s three condominiums at the One Rincon Hill residential tower.
The group put the condos, valued at $5.5 million, under a conspirator’s name, took out loans against the properties, drained them of their equity and then laundered the money through shell companies, prosecutors said. One of the members of the group was Kaushal Nirouda, 31, who has been dubbed the “Dark Prince” for his role in the case and a separate murder case in Riverside County. Nirouda fraudulently took the title to the murder victim’s home and tried to sell it. He has been convicted in the case and is awaiting sentencing, and also has a pending case in Marin County where he allegedly stole $300,000 in jewelry from a woman, according to the district attorney’s office.
The fourth defendant in the San Francisco case, Melvin Emerich, 60, was charged with eight felony counts but the jury hung on some charges and found him not guilty of others. He is due back in court on Oct. 25 to set a date for a new jury trial. The fifth alleged scammer, Grachelle Languban, remains outstanding and is believed to have fled to the Philippines. “This case illustrates the depths to which scam artists can devise a sophisticated scheme to defraud unsuspecting victims of millions of dollars,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement.
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