For release on October 21, 2013

Katharina Wells
Deputy District Attorney
Real Estate Fraud Unit
(408) 792-2530


A 56-year-old San Jose man was sentenced to five years in jail for pretending to be a money manager and stealing more than half a million dollars.

Rather than fund his clients’ investments, Thomas R. Papa used the money to pay off his gambling debts.

Papa pleaded no contest to nine fraud-related felonies on February 13, 2013. On October 15, 2013, the Hon. Phillip Pennypacker sentenced Papa to five years in the county jail to be followed by five years of probation. Papa was ordered to pay more than $350,000 in restitution to his victims.

“Private loans are a common vehicle for con artists to scam people out of large amounts of money,” Deputy District Attorney Katharina Wells said. “If the loan terms sound too good to be true, it is likely a scam.”

Using an office and business cards, Papa presented himself as the money manager of MTJJ of California with close connections to various banks that allowed him to arrange private funding for property and business loans.

Over the course of two years, Papa convinced “investors” (victims) to pay him over $500,000 in down payments, which he then used to pay his gambling debts. Through a series of delaying tactics, fraudulent documents and bad checks, Papa convinced the victims their money had gone to fund home and business loans. Papa paid back approximately $197,500 to some of the victims prior to the filing of charges.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit opened an investigation into Papa in 2012 after being contacted by one of the victims. Papa was arrested on June 6, 2012 by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Investigation Bureau.


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