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Sisters sentenced to prison for real estate fraud

July 30, 2012

An Orange County judge sentenced two sisters to eight and 10 years in prison, respectively, for their part in a conspiracy with two other members of their family to commit $16 million worth of real estate fraud, prosecutors said Monday.

Suniti Shah, 51, and Supriti Soni, 52, falsified documents to secure loans for "straw buyers" — or people who allow their credit to be used with no intention of controlling a property, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

The last known addresses were in Newport Coast for Shah and Corona del Mar for Soni, according to D.A. spokeswoman Farrah Emami.

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Prosecutors allege the two women worked with their mother, Sushama Devi Lohia, 74, of Newport Beach and Shah's husband, Dinesh Valjeebhai Shah, 62, in operating various real estate businesses and conspiring to recruit straw buyers where they falsified the straw buyers' credit and obtained fraudulent loans.

Shah pleaded guilty to 31 felonies, including forgery, grand theft and conspiracy to commit a crime. Soni pleaded guilty to 39 felonies, including conspiracy to commit a crime, forgery, identity theft and grand theft.

Dinesh Valjeebhai Shah is the only person of the four to not be convicted. He faces charges for 31 felonies, including conspiracy, forgery, identity theft, grand theft, and a slew of sentencing enhancements. He is next expected in court Friday.

— Lauren Williams

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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