SAN JOSE -- The founders of a South Bay real estate company who stole almost $5 million from investors in a real estate Ponzi scheme were given lengthy prison sentences.

Terrance Brown and Antranik Kabajouzian, founders of the Bay Area Equity Group, were sentenced Thursday to 15 and 10 years, respectively, after pleading guilty to several felonies, including financial elder fraud, grand theft, securities fraud and forgery, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors say Brown and Kabajouzian promised investors a generous return on well-maintained properties in other states. In reality, many of the properties were dilapidated homes in Detroit. Some were sold to more than one victim, and others were never transferred to investors. None generated the "guaranteed" 15 percent return.

There were about 40 victims in the case filed by the district attorney's office, Wells said. Most of the investors lost all of their money.

"It is heartbreaking to see hardworking people lose their life savings to con artists," Wells said in a statement. "Of course we would love to be able to give the money back to the victims but usually in a large Ponzi scheme such as this, the money is gone."

Kabajouzian, 35, of Morgan Hill, was arrested in October. After his arrest, authorities seized his Aston Martin and sold it at an auction. Brown, 48, was arrested in November at a Las Vegas casino.

Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him at Twitter.com/markmgomez.



Advertisement