EXCLUSIVE: Victims in large contractor fraud case speak to defendants

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Several victims in one of California's largest contractor fraud cases were in court Friday for an emotional day of testimony.

We were the only ones with cameras in court as the victims gave their impact statements. They spoke directly to husband and wife William and Constance Gabriel, who have pled guilty to more than 30 felony counts each of grand theft and two counts each of elder fraud.

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Reverend Nick Palermo walked to the podium in Santa Clara County Superior Court. He's one of 37 homeowners that have come forward with losses totaling up to $900,000. They made huge down payments for sunrooms that prosecutors say were never completed and in some cases, never started.

William and Constance Gabriel ran Sunroom America in San Jose before the Contractors State License Board stripped the company of its license last year.

Reverend Palermo said he and his wife live on a modest salary and lost more than $22,000.

"In summary, we lost money we could not afford to lose. And we were mocked by faith and violated by people who lived in our neighborhood," said the Reverend.

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Lisa Ascariz had dreams of building out this room to take advantage of her ocean view in Pacifica.

"We are victims here and our voices matter," she said.

Two years after losing some of her savings, the emotions still run high.

"I still to this day can't tell everybody how much I lost. It's embarrassing. I was raised different. I was raised to not do this to people," said Lisa.

The probation office has recommended a sentence of five to eight years in prison for each of the defendants.

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Prosecutor Cherie Bourlard says new case law makes it easier to give defendants time in state prison instead of county jail.

"I'm just hopeful the defendants are going to receive significant prison time and I'm hoping we can resolve this next week in a timely fashion," she said.

Judge Arthur Bocanegra scheduled sentencing for next Friday.

"I don't wish malice on him," said Reverend Palermo speaking about William Gabriel. I wish justice and hope he will change in his heart."

Seven on Your Side tried to talk to both Defense attorneys, but they did not respond to our request for comment.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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