Two California men were sentenced to one year in jail and five years probation after they were convicted of more than 200 counts of forgery in an architecture and engineering scheme.
The two men, Wilfrido Rodriguez and Ruben Gutierrez, were draftsmen and designers at an architectural engineering firm, were convicted in November of more than 200 counts each of forgery, identity theft, and grand theft. Rodriguez could have gotten a maximum punishment of 92 years in prison and Guiterrez could have received 77 years, according to Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Stodel, who prosecuted the case.
The scheme involved the two men forging the signature of one of the civil engineers that owned Palos Verdes Engineering. They used the signature and seal of the engineer to fool homeowners, builders and several city governments that the plans that they had personally drafted were approved by the engineer. This is in violation of several statutes that are intended to ensure that structural plans are up to building code and that the proposed building will be structurally sound and safe.
The engineer discovered the fraud in 2014 and notified police. The case had been pending since that time.
The leniency of the sentencing is due to the finding that none of the forged plans were, in fact, structurally unsound and dangerous or in need of repair, according to the defendants’ attorney, Bill Seki.
"It's an incredibly complicated case and I think the judge put a lot of thought into it," Seki said outside court following the November conviction. "Despite her ruling, we believe there are legal issues we would like to address in an appeal."
The appeal is still under consideration.