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Woodland Hills Broker Gets 3-Year Term in Mortgage Scam

July 19, 2000|MYRON LEVIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former Woodland Hills mortgage broker accused of bilking borrowers and lenders out of millions of dollars was sentenced Tuesday in San Jose to three years in state prison.

Edward Rostami, 38, was sentenced in Santa Clara County Superior Court after pleading no contest to four counts of grand theft and conspiracy for swindling an elderly Santa Clara homeowner in a reverse-mortgage scam. He was also ordered to pay restitution of nearly $742,000 to the victim, Irene Schuler, and two lenders.

Rostami, along with the vice president of his brokerage business, Sharon Palmer-Ross, also faces federal charges in Los Angeles stemming from the alleged theft of the home of a Malibu woman.

Paul Colin, head of the Santa Clara County district attorney's real estate fraud unit, said after Tuesday's sentencing that Nevada authorities also are seeking Rostami's extradition to face charges there.

"It's really important that the public watch out for people like this," Colin said.

Rostami and Palmer-Ross had brokered loans through several business entities, including TriStar Mortgage, Polo Financial Services and KISS International. In civil lawsuits and a flood of complaints to state regulators, they had been accused of cheating loan clients and lenders through bait-and-switch tactics and outright forgery and theft. Most of the purported victims were in Southern California.

In a plea bargain last month in the Santa Clara case, Rostami agreed to plead no contest to the four charges in exchange for dismissal of nine other counts.

"He wants to get on with his life," his lawyer Dan Burland said Tuesday. "He's got a family that he's concerned about."

Rostami and Palmer-Ross, who also reached a plea bargain in the Santa Clara case, originally fled rather than face charges there. Rostami was arrested in February outside a computer store in the Mexican resort town of Rosarito Beach, and transported to San Jose.

Palmer-Ross, 40, was arrested in August while allegedly trying to enter the U.S. at the San Ysidro border crossing with three Mexican nationals in the trunk of her car.

Palmer-Ross was sentenced July 5 to a 16-month term in the Santa Clara case, but with credit for time served her sentence was deemed complete.

She is to be arraigned Monday in Los Angeles on the federal charges, which include 11 counts of bank and mail fraud and money laundering. No arraignment date has been set for Rostami in the federal case.

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