SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A sentence has been handed down in one of the largest contractor fraud cases in recent memory in California.
We were the only news crew in the courtroom when the Judge announced his decision Friday in Santa Clara County Superior Court. Victims who lost a total of up to $900,000 left unhappy.
William and Constance Gabriel both expressed remorse Friday, and declared their intention to pay back their 37 victims.
Judge Arthur Bocanegra sentenced William Gabriel to 3 years in state prison on 37 felony counts of grand theft and two counts of elder abuse.
His wife received a sentence of one year in county jail and 5 years probation for roughly the same charges.
Outside the courtroom, victims expressed their displeasure at the hearing.
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Almost unanimously, they cited William Gabriel's claim to be a man of Christian faith.
"I think when he gets to prison he's going to grab everybody and become the local pastor in prison and get himself out early," said Jeffrey Malloy. He and his wife, Susan, lost $21 thousand dollars for a promised sunroom.
Oceana Barry and her husband Bill are owed $14,000.
Oceana said she did not go to the hearing because she feels she needs to move on with her life.
They ended up hiring a different contractor to complete the sunroom the Gabriels barely started.
Still, it is hard to let go of the anger.
"I think it's unfortunate because I don't feel that was justice served. It's nice they've been told to pay us back, but I don't think anybody getting money back," she said.
Prosecutor Cherie Bourlard also expressed disappointment pointing out the probation report recommended a sentence of eight years in prison for William Gabriel and five years for Connie.
Bourlard also reminded everyone of a law often overlooked by consumers.
"Never pay your contractors more than either 10 percent of the overall contract price or 1,000-whichever is less," she said.
RELATED: Local contractors accused of stealing $800,000 from customers
Jeffrey Malloy says he lost more than money. "Fortunately, I'm a very trustful person. That kind of put a little dent in that now. I don't think I'm going to be as trustful as I used to be," he said.
The District Attorney's office is considering possibly appealing the sentence of William Gabriel saying state law mandates that he receive at least four years in state prison, not three. Defense attorneys declined to comment.
Take a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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