SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A former tech executive was set to be sentenced to county jail Monday afternoon for defrauding his business partner and high school friends out of more than $400,000, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Narsimha Raju Sagiraju, 28, spent about $424,000 on blackjack trips to Las Vegas, Monte Carlo and Dubai that he had told his former Cupertino High School classmates he would invest.
Sagiraju pleaded no contest to three felony counts of securities fraud and three felony counts of grand theft, Deputy District Attorney Erica Engin said.
The former software startup director also admitted to excessive taking and white-collar crime enhancements.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Shelyna Brown is set to decide at 1:30 p.m. Monday whether to sentence Sagiraju to three or five years in jail for his crimes.
“The defendant stole millions of dollars from people who trusted him so that he could live the lavish lifestyle of a Silicon Valley venture capitalist,” Engin said in a statement.
“His crimes have caused his victims to lose substantial amounts of money and trust,” Engin said.
While a startup executive in 2012, Sagiraju solicited several former classmates to invest in Genwi, a commercial construction project, and pre-IPO shares of stock in Pinterest and Facebook, prosecutors said.
Three victims sued Sagiraju in civil court the following year after he had gambled the money away, and he said he would repay them with interest.
In November 2014, one victim reported the fraud to the district attorney’s office.
When Sagiraju was arrested upon his arrival in Las Vegas in February 2016, he had $155,000 in casino chips, prosecutors said.
At the time of his arrest in Las Vegas, Sagiraju was working for a new venture capital fund and a real estate investment company.
A few months later, Sagiraju’s business partner at the two companies contacted the district attorney’s office to report that the defendant had embezzled almost $2 million in the 10 months leading up to his arrest.
Prosecutors used the white-collar crime “Freeze and Seize” law to take custody of the casino chips and $121,000 in two of Sagiraju’s casino accounts in Las Vegas.
Brown is set to decide how to distribute that money to the victims at a restitution hearing, prosecutors said.
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