San Jose real estate agent accused of 44 felony counts

August 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Bay Area prosecutor is calling an elaborate Ponzi scheme -- real estate agent Jill Marie Silvey of San Jose is accused of preying on people who knew and trusted her.

The grand theft and forgery charges are so numerous that prosecutors have asked that Silvey's bail be set at $3 million. The judge agreed.

Silvey's reputation as a skilled real estate agent is gone. Her clients and former friends say she became a greedy con artist.

"She took the money, she buried it, she gave it to, probably to somebody that she knows," alleged victim Michael Levine said.

Levine says he took out a $120,000 home equity loan and gave the money to Silvey. The short term investment was supposed to yield a decent interest rate and be secured by real property.

"She forged notaries, she forged legal documents of properties, she basically just took me for a ride," he said.

Silvey is charged with 44 felony counts involving 14 loans covering a six year period beginning in 2005. Prosecutors say there are 27 victims in all with investments totaling $1.2 million.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Colin says the case was an elaborate Ponzi scheme. He says the scam provided Silvey with money to buy expensive clothes, remodel her San Jose home, furnish it and own two luxury vehicles.

"So new money comes in to pay old money and if that went on forever no one would know, but of course it never goes on forever and the house of cards crumbles," Colin said.

Christina Bullard says Silvey even betrayed her own family. Bullard's daughter married Silvey's son.

"It's not a punch in the stomach, it's more like a slap in the face I don't know how to explain it, it's unbearable," Bullard said.

Court documents indicate Silvey has filed for bankruptcy and her San Jose home is now up for sale. Her private attorney says he has thousands of pages of discovery and bank records to pour over before he comments on the case.

"I'll be glad to make a statement at a later date but not today," Cameron Watt said. "She is remorseful for some of her conduct, yes."

Silvey's alleged victims say they are devastated, both financially and emotionally.

"I am past the angry, I want justice now; I want her to serve 31 years, I hope legally that happens," Levine said.

The deputy district attorney says more people are coming forward, saying they have been bilked out of money and he could file additional charges.

If convicted on all charges, Silvey could face more than 30 years in prison. She is due back in court next month to enter a plea.


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