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No prison time for real estate mogul convicted in SF corruption scandal

Victor Makras, Farah Makras, Sonia Molodetskaya and Willie Brown (from left) at the San Francisco Opera. | Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

A politically connected real estate agent convicted of bank fraud was sentenced to three years probation and fined $15,200 for his part in a corruption scandal that reached the highest levels of San Francisco government.

Victor Makras appeared in U.S. District Court in San Francisco Tuesday where Judge Richard Seeborg handed down the lesser of two possible sentences.

Federal prosecutors wanted the real estate mogul to pay $25,000 and spend two months behind bars. 

Makras was convicted in U.S. District Court earlier this year in a case built on the same federal corruption probe that toppled other powerful players in city politics. Namely, former Public Utility Commission head Harlan Kelly and ex-Public Works boss Mohammed Nuru. 

Nuru was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud in January.

Meanwhile, the trial has yet to begin for Kelly, who’s accused of giving a contractor preferential treatment and insider information in exchange for free work on his home.

Makras’ conviction proved how he made false statements to help Kelly secure a $1.3 million loan for the project.

Federal prosecutors want him to not only pay a $25,000 fine and serve two months in prison but also be under three years of probation, while federal probation officials have recommended a lesser fine of $15,000 and time served as well as probation. 

“The government submits that a short custodial sentence and a more meaningful financial penalty fits the seriousness of this case, the circumstances of the defendant, and the need for deterrence,” the federal sentencing recommendation said, adding that such a sentence will deter other white collar criminals. 

“The government’s recommended sentence elevates the cost of committing bank fraud to a level reflective of its seriousness. A short custodial term ensures that Makras—a first-time offender—will not waiver again,” continued the government’s memo. 

Makras’ lawyers said in their own sentencing motion that he agrees with the lesser recommendation. 

While Makras did not write the court himself, a long list of supporters did, including former mayor Willie Brown and, lastly, Makras' wife, Farah Makras. 

She wrote that her husband believes in the rule of law and is the most honest and humble man she knows, and asked the judge for leniency. In fact, she wrote he is so humble he drives friends like Mayor Brown to the opera in the “cheapest little Toyota Tacoma Truck.” 

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at