Suniti Shah and Supriti Soni Join Mom in Prison After Admitting Roles in $16 mil Scam

Supriti Soni
Supriti Soni

Two Newport Beach-area sisters will soon be reunited with their mother--in the state penal system anyway. Suniti Shah, 51, of Newport Coast, and Supriti Soni, 52, of Corona del Mar, pleaded guilty to their roles in a $16 million real estate scam that has already sent their 74-year-old mother, Sushama Devi Lohia of Newport Beach, to state prison for eight years.

The final piece of the fraud puzzle: a pending trial for Shah's 62-year-old husband, Dinesh Valjeebhai Shah.

Lohia, a licensed real estate agent, worked out of Vason Development, a Santa Ana company that processed home loan applications and was owned by her daughter Soni, as well as New Age Realty, First Property Escrow, City First Realty and Associates Investments Group, which the Shahs owned and operated out the same Newport Avenue address in Tustin.

Suniti Shah
Suniti Shah
Booking photos courtesy of OCDA

Here is what Lohia, Soni and Suniti Shah have copped to, based on a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA):

Between June 2006 and October 2009, they obtained more than 15 fraudulent loans on real estate properties in Orange County through the use of "straw buyers"--people who knowingly and willingly allowed their credit to be used for the purchase of a property they never intended to control.

Loan applications, bank statements and employer information were then fabricated to reflect significantly higher incomes for the straw buyers, whose names and signatures were also forged on various deeds and loan documents.

With all the funny papers, $16 million in loans approved by Washington Mutual Bank were obtained.

Lohia and wife Shah also admitted to--and husband Shah is accused of--filing false and forged documents with the Orange County Clerk-Recorder's Office to reflect phony property transfers. Lohia also under-reported her personal income for two years on tax returns.

The fraud came tumbling down after a realtor complained to authorities.

Pursuing the American Dream ... of Ponzi Schemes and Real Estate Fraud!?!
 
Suniti Shah was sentenced Friday to eight years in state prison after pleading guilty to five felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 13 felony counts of forgery, four felony counts of identity theft, four felony counts of recording false and forged instrument, five felony counts of grand theft, and sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $1.3 million, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

Sis' Soni got a dime after copping to nine felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 17 felony counts of forgery, one felony count of identity theft, 12 felony counts of grand theft, with sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $3.2 million, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and a 2003 prison prior for perjury.

Lohia cut this deal with the court in December: eight years in the joint in exchange for pleading guilty to 12 felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 27 felony counts of forgery, 12 felony count of grand theft, eight felony counts of failure to file, four felony counts of identity theft, four felony counts of recording false and forged instrument, two felony counts of under-reporting income and sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $3.2 million, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

Sushama Devi Lohia and Aida Agusti Castro are Prison Bound for Family Home Loan Scams

Dinesh Shah has a pre-trial hearing scheduled Aug. 3 in Santa Ana. He is charged with five felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 13 felony counts of forgery, four felony counts of identity theft, four felony counts of recording false and forged instrument, five felony counts of grand theft, and sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $1.3 million, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

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