Robert Estupinian was sentenced Nov. 15 in federal court to five and a half years in prison for conspiring to defraud the clients of Vesta Strategies, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

He was also ordered to pay full restitution, in an amount to be determined by the court. Estupinian, of San Jose, was the minority owner and chief executive officer of Vesta. The company was a qualified intermediary for the purpose of conducting tax-deferred real estate exchanges.

Vesta collapsed in July 2008 with approximately $25 million owed to its depositors. Vesta lacked the ability to meet its redemption obligations because its owners, including Estupinian, and managers misappropriated the money, and because new client deposits were used to pay existing depositors.




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