A man convicted in September of more than a dozen felony counts stemming from a complicated scam at San Francisco’s One Rincon Hill luxury residential tower was sentenced today to 20 years in state prison. Jay Shah, 48, who was convicted along with co-defendant Winston Lum, was ordered this morning by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charlene Kieselbach to serve the 20-year term and pay a fine of $14.1 million — twice the amount taken in the scam. “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 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 spoke only briefly during the sentencing to answer a judge’s question, and shook his head repeatedly as she spoke about his alleged crimes. Along with the $14.1 million fine, he will also be required to pay $3 million to the various victims, the judge said. Lum’s sentencing was still under way late this morning. He was also convicted Sept. 19 of various fraud charges.
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