I-Team

'West Coast Donald Trump' sentenced to prison

Wednesday, May 02, 2012
, Chief Investigative Reporter
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A man who called himself "the West Coast Donald Trump" was sentenced Wednesday in a massive real estate fraud case. The ABC7 News I-Team has been investigating the case for three years.

Court documents show Jim McConville pocketed more than $12 million in the scheme. The judge Wednesday said this was the largest mortgage fraud case she's seen.

In Oakland federal court McConville received eight years and nine months in federal prison for "conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud" and "money laundering." A prior felony grand theft conviction for ripping off his business partners played a role in the sentencing. He refused to answer the I-Team's questions in the past, but Wednesday, McConville gave the court a tearful apology.

"He developed property and did good for a bunch of people," McConville's attorney Stuart Hanlon said. "Then it got out of control and he did actions that are certainly part of the larger scheme of mortgage fraud that are affecting all of us."

McConville obtained more than 300 properties with the use of straw buyers, falsified loan documents and paid himself exorbitant marketing fees and hid that fact from the lenders.

The lead IRS investigator on the case said, in many ways, McConville is typical.

"I think what happens in a lot of individual schemes, is they start dealing in a scheme and they're successful, the greed sets in," Mary Williams said.

In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors wrote, "The government is concerned that the defendant has not provided adequate financial disclosures."

It says handwritten notes found in McConville's office reveal he has "investments in offshore companies on Nevis," a small Caribbean island. He's stashed money in Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Sweden and Cyprus. And that he's purchased foreign currency -- "Iraqi dinars and significant amounts of Vietnamese dong."

But is there still money out there?

"Mr. McConville was a dreamer and I think what the government saw were thoughts he had about potential investments he could have made," McConville's attorney Sara Rief said. "There is no money out there or the United States government could have found it if there was."

This case especially stings for investors because of the extravagant lifestyle McConville lead with their money. He built a 80-acre estate in the Castro Valley hills where, according to court documents, he kept $6 million worth of antiques, art and jewelry, as well as a classic car collection valued at $1.5 million.

McConville even bankrolled a horror movie. He appeared in a trailer for the film with his son and daughter.

Prosecutors said McConville passed some of the money through his family members, even used his daughter as the sole name on various companies. They declined to speak as they left court.

McConville recruited loan processors, escrow officers and bank employees to help in the scheme. Seven have been convicted -- five of them are still waiting to be sentenced.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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mortgages, fraud, i-team, dan noyes
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