Vincent Robert Eppstein, 49, San Jose, California, was convicted of embezzling more than half a million dollars from his good friend, while she was away in a long-term rehab program. The defendant refinanced her real estate and payed off his own mortgage with her money, among other things.
Heading into a long-term rehabilitation program, the 43-year-old victim asked Eppstein to manage her finances. Rather than managing them, Eppstein – over the next four years – began systemically stripping her of all assets, primarily by refinancing her two properties and outright selling a third home.
Having little income of his own, Eppstein used the money to support his own daily expenses, including paying off his own house payments while regularly sending her mortgage payments in late. He also used it to buy himself a brace of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a fleet of Segways, a Rolex watch and a diamond engagement ring. With the embezzled funds, he also treated himself to luxury vacations in Las Vegas, Florida and Hawaii. He even bought two tickets for a friend to go to Brazil.
By the time the victim left rehab, Eppstein had embezzled more than $630,000, money siphoned from a real estate inheritance entrusted to the victim so that she could take care of her mentally-disabled mother.
When the now-recovered victim finally confronted Eppstein, he transferred the last $750 from her account. Then, he wrote himself a check for the remaining 60 cents. On the check’s memo line he wrote: “Have a nice life.”
After a six-week trial, a jury convicted Eppstein of three counts of grand theft and one count of fraud against a dependent adult, all felonies. Added to the charges were enhancements for stealing more than $500,000.
Eppstein, who is in custody, faces 11 years in prison when he is sentenced by the Hon. Teresa Guerrero-Daley on November 18, 2013. The District Attorney’s Office will be seeking a restitution order on behalf of the victim for $900,000.
“It’s a sad but sobering truth that in many fraud cases it is friends and family who take advantage of their positions of trust,’’ prosecutor Victor Chen said. “Pay attention. Be involved. If you are unable to manage your own finances, consider hiring a professional.’’