SAN JOSE -- A 56-year-old San Jose man who defrauded would-be investors to pay off his gambling debts was sentenced to five years in jail and five years probation, according to prosecutors.
Thomas R. Papa claimed to be a money manager and advertised his services on Craigslist, said prosecutor Katharina Wells of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
He said that he was with a company called MTJJ of California, and had connections with banks that made it possible for him to broker deals for property and business loans through private investors who would pocket a decent return.
"Private loans are a common vehicle for con artists to scam people out of large amounts of money," said Wells. "If the loan terms sound too good to be true, it is likely a scam."
Over two years, Papa collected over half a million dollars in down payments, which were used to pay off gambling debts, Wells said. He stalled clients, used fake documents and wrote bad checks to convince victims that the money was going to legitimate investments. He had paid back about $197,500 to some of the victims before charges were filed in June 2012, Wells said.
Papa pleaded no contest to nine counts of felony fraud on Feb. 13. He was sentenced last week to jail and probation, and also ordered to pay restitution to his victims, Wells said.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.