San Fernando Valley developer Jerry Y. Oren was placed on five years' probation Monday and ordered to pay fines and restitution of more than $300,000 for using a fake letter to inflate the price of a Santa Monica Mountains tract he sold to the National Park Service.
U.S. District Judge Harry L. Hupp also ordered Oren, 61, to perform 1,500 hours of community service work.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Ralph F. Hirschmann had argued for a 90-day jail term as a deterrent to "Southern California land developers . . . watching this prosecution like hawks."
But defense attorney Bruce I. Hochman insisted that because of his client's prominence the indictment and the trial serve as a sufficient deterrent.
Oren could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison and $11,000 in fines for cheating the government in the 1985 sale of 336 oak-covered acres in Agoura's Cheeseboro Canyon.
He was convicted July 15 of wire fraud and making false statements for fabricating a supposed $9.3-million rival offer on a 335-acre parcel being considered for purchase by the park service.
An appraiser relied on the phony offer in valuing the land at $8.4 million, far more than its true worth, and the park service bought the parcel for $8 million in September, 1984.
As a condition of probation, Hupp ordered Oren to pay the government $272,000 in restitution, plus interest from the date of sale in January, 1985. He also imposed the maximum fine of $11,000.
Hupp said that about 75 letters sent to him on behalf of Oren by prominent Southland residents were "impressive to me in both their quality and quantity."
The judge said that Oren's 1,500 hours of community service were more than normal for such a case and that he felt the community would be better served with Oren performing such work rather than serving prison time.