From the nctimes.com:
In rendering the sentence, Judge Mark Mandio at the Southwest Justice Center decided against handing out the maximum punishment of four years in prison to Robert Conrad Acosta, 40, and Monique Evette Acosta, 37.
A jury convicted the couple in May of defrauding their lender by ripping out fixtures in the home and attempting to sell them after they were kicked out in June 2010 for failing to make mortgage payments.
Mandio cited their lack of prior convictions and the damage that long-term incarceration could do to them and their family as reasons for giving them lighter sentences.
“This was an act of anger,” Mandio said. “I think it was out of character for each of these individuals.”
Apparently incensed that they were getting booted from the home on Via Laguna, the Acostas tore the house apart, taking nearly everything of value and leaving the property in shambles.
Jurors saw a video and photographs taken after the family’s departure that showed piles of rubble, empty doorways where doors were removed, damaged rock facings, spray-painted walls, tile grouting saturated with black hair dye and loose wires sticking from walls from which light fixtures had been taken. The kitchen literally was gutted for everything of worth.
The swimming pool was filed with cypress trees that had been cut down and dumped there along with other debris.
The Acostas contended they had a right to take the items from the house because they had purchased them. However, the deed of trust that ran with the outstanding loan on the property prohibited the removal of permanent fixtures regardless of who installed them, according to evidence presented at trial.
Investigators discovered Robert Acosta had advertised many of the items for sale on the online marketplace Craig’slist and the couple were arrested.
While awaiting trial, Robert Acosta resigned from his position with the San Diego Police Department.
During Friday’s sentencing proceeding, the judge rejected requests by the Acostas’ defense attorneys for a reduction in their convictions from felonies to misdemeanors.
Robert Acosta’s attorney, Erin Moore, argued her client’s offer to repair the damages and return items to the suburban home was rejected by representatives of the lender. The suburban home had been appraised at about $700,000 after the Acostas had renovated it.
“He did not have an opportunity to fix the problems with the house,” she said.
Attorney Joshua Knight, who represented Monique Acosta, asked the judge to consider the “exceptional circumstances” that the family found itself in.
“Mr. and Mrs. Acosta were upstanding citizens (who) had a series of blows that caused them to lose everything,” he said.
In arguing against the motions, Deputy District Attorney Marcus Garrett, who prosecuted the case, said thousands of Americans who have lost their homes during the recession have behaved “with honesty and integrity when asked to leave. Those people are not Robert and Monique Acosta.”
He noted that, only a month before losing the home, the Acostas had taken their family on a vacation in the Caribbean. He also emphasized that their failure to meet their financial obligations and the damage inflicted on the home had hurt the lender and its employees.
“This is conduct that must be punished,” Garrett said.
Calling the crimes “relatively egregious,” Judge Mandio refused to reduce the convictions and talked about the harm the couple had inflicted.
“The people who worked inside that credit union were vulnerable and were hurt by the Acostas’ actions,” he said.
As a result of the jail sentence, each spouse probably will be in custody about half the time based on credits for good conduct.
The judge agreed to let Robert Acosta work at his job and get his affairs in order for a week before going to jail and Monique Acosta will not have to report until late December.
That will allow one parent to be home with their children while the other is in custody.
Their sentence also will require restitution of $140,000.