Phony film executive sentenced to 5 years in prison, $1.9 million restitution

A San Francisco man was sentenced to five years in federal prison and ordered to pay almost $1.9 million in restitution to two fleeced investors -- including one he persuaded to believe he was a movie executive, federal authorities said Friday.   

Min Jin Zhao, 60, pleaded guilty to fraud in two separate investment schemes, U.S. Attorney Ismael J. Ramsey and FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp said in a statement.   

In one case, Zhao claimed to be a film executive at Sony and told a man that for a $500,000 investment, the victim could be an executive producer on movie projects. The victim eventually handed over $300,000 -- money that he borrowed from a family member, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.   


$100,000 in jewelry reported stolen in armed robbery

Police are investigating a report that three armed men took $100,000 in jewelry, including a Rolex watch, from a victim in a downtown Walnut Creek parking garage Friday night.   

In another case, Zhao convinced a woman to hand over her retirement savings, promising to invest it for a 10 percent monthly return. Prosecutors said Zhao's victim trusted him because she believed he was a "dear friend." Zhao used the funds in part to buy a condominium in Indian Wells, CA, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.   

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria sentenced Zhao to serve a three-year period of supervised release and pay $1,883,503.93 in restitution. He also was ordered to forfeit the Indian Wells property.