Contractor fraud victims in South Bay and Peninsula still owed $500,000

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- One of two people convicted in one of the state's largest contractor fraud cases is out of jail for time served less than a month after being sentenced to one year in the county jail.

Authorities estimated that 37 victims lost upwards of $900,000 for sunrooms that were never completed. Those still owed money are pessimistic they'll ever see any of that money again.

Husband and wife William and Constance Gabriel each pledged to pay back all of their victims on the day of their sentencing.

Some of the victims have already recovered money back via charge backs from their credit card companies. But court documents indicate some $500,000 is still owed to the victims.

Meanwhile Constance Gabriel is already out of jail after getting credit for one year for time served. William Gabriel is serving the final two years of his three year sentence in state prison.

"It's nice that they've been told to pay us back, but I don't think anybody is going to get money back, said Oceana Barry of San Jose.

Prosecutor Cherie Bourlard tells 7 On Your Side unfortunately most of the victims did not pay with their credit card. People like Oceana Barry, Reverend Nick Palermo, and Jeffrey Maloy and his wife Susan paid with cash or check.

The only way they and 34 other victims will get their money back is if William and Constance Gabriel make good on their restitution.

John Ascariz and Lisa Ascariz did use their credit card, but Chase bank declined their chargeback. They are the last known victims who paid with their credit card. "That was real disappointing," said John, a Pacifica resident. "They have fraud protection and we had all our stuff we thought was in line and they turned us down for it."

Under federal regulations, credit card customers have 60 days to challenge a charge. After that, companies are under no obligation to refund money, although many do for the sake of good customer relations.

"I went to Chase in person. Went to the bank to talk to them. I felt alone. They didn't want to help me," said Lisa. 7 on Your Side met Lisa when she gave her victim statement in February. We heard her plight and offered to give Chase a call.

"I was like am I hearing you right. You want to help me?" she said.

We contacted Chase and notified them about the sentencing of the Gabriels. The bank promised to look into it further.

"When the check came in the mail, I cried again. I mean this is money we worked for. This was -- we're putting into our home, our future," Lisa said.

As for the remaining victims owed money, Constance Gabriel is requested to pay her victims through the Santa Clara County Tax and Collections Department. Her husband's restitution is being taken from his wages in prison.

Ultimately it's up to each victim to go after the Gabriels for restitution if they fail to pay.

"I'm not very confident that I'll get any money back at all. I don't see how they're going to pay back that much money," said Jeff Malloy.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office has decided against appealing the sentence of William Gabriel. They had hoped the judge would have given him a stiffer sentence, but determined an appeal would not be successful.

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

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