Romanian sentenced to 8 years in prison for wire fraud

Dec. 3, 2013 at 6:03 a.m.

A Romanian national convicted of 33 counts of wire fraud was sentenced Monday to eight years in federal prison.

Doru Gabriel Trifu, 29, of Orangevale, Calif., also will be on three years of supervised release.

Senior U.S. District Judge John Rainey, who presided over the case, ordered Trifu to pay $562,239.78 in restitution.

Rainey said Trifu's was one of the most extensive fraud schemes he had seen and played on someone's loyalties to the military, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Trifu's attorney, Keith Weiser, of Victoria, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

A jury found Trifu guilty Sept. 25 after listening to four days of evidence, which included Wal-Mart surveillance videos and testimony from victims.

The victims told jurors Trifu communicated with them over the Internet. He said he was a U.S. serviceman preparing for deployment to the Middle East and needed to sell his items quickly.

Trifu instructed the victims to send the money via MoneyGram, and an escrow agent would accept the funds, complete the transaction and deliver the item. The items would never be delivered, according to earlier reports.

The Wal-Mart surveillance videos captured Trifu collecting payments at stores in Corpus Christi, Aransas Pass, Portland, Alice, Beeville, Victoria, Cuero and Port Lavaca.

Weiser attempted to suppress some evidence seized when law enforcement entered Trifu's Orangevale home under what he called a "ruse."

While he respected the verdict, Weiser also said in a previous interview that some of the surveillance video was of a poor quality, so "identity was an issue."



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