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Old 12-13-2003, 06:33 PM   #1
TJ
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Default Mario/Marilyn Yunis sentenced to 12 years in state prison

http://www.nbc4.tv/news/2703014/detail.html

Man Who Helped Finance Sex Change With Music Scam Money Sentenced

Parents Cheated Out Of Money For Musical Instruments

LOS ANGELES -- A man who partially financed his sex change operation by duping Hispanic parents out of money was sentenced Friday to 12 years in state prison.

Mario Yunis, who now goes by Marilyn, said she wanted to "apologize to all of these people," but urged them not to hate her because they didn't understand what happened.

"I'm going 12 years to prison for a lot of the things I didn't do," Yunis told the crowd of people victimized in a scam involving music lessons for their children.

Several of the victims believed Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Michael Hoff should have come down harder.

'I think that's too short considering how much he's hurt all of us," Ernesto Contreras said through an interpreter.

Salvador Ayala said his daughter "feels guilty" for what happened.

"She feels responsible for what happened to us, even though she's only a child," he said through an interpreter.

Martha Gallardo said Yunis "took away a lot of dreams for our kids."

"Now a lot of dreams are shattered," Gallardo said. "He acted selfish. He went and got his dream and ruined a lot of lives."

Several of the victims referred to Yunis as a man, with one telling the judge, "I hope you make this man or woman an example."

Yunis, 34, pleaded no contest last month to four charges, including conspiracy to commit grand theft, along with grand theft and identity theft, said Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Fairtlough.

A second defendant, Omar Arroyo, also known as Omar Ferret, was arrested in Costa Rica in August, and authorities are trying to get him back to Los Angeles County for prosecution. He was profiled by "America's Most Wanted" and "Unsolved Mysteries" while on the lam.

Parents were persuaded to pay as much as $4,000 for musical instruments, with the schools being closed in three to four weeks and a new school opening in another location, the prosecutor said.

The schools were in Mission Hills, Toluca Lake, North Hollywood, Glendora, Montclair and Riverside, among other locations.

In some instances, credit card accounts were set up using personal information unwittingly provided by the parents to the schools, resulting in "extremely large losses" for some credit institutions and banks.

In all, the losses are estimated at roughly $2.5 million, Fairtlough said, with the subject of restitution set to be discussed further at a Feb. 19 hearing.

Yunis underwent the sex change operation during the scam, with some people identifying her as a woman and others as a man, and the operation was paid at least in part through the scam, Fairtlough said.

In speaking to the victims, Yunis said no one should "judge me for what I became."

"This is a case of lust, material lust, but it has become a circus and humiliation of my sexuality ... and making fun of me," she said, looking back at the crowd on the opposite side of the courtroom.

Her attorney, Bradley William Brunon, said Yunis is "certainly sorry for any harm that she has caused," but has "tried to make amends" and agreed to a lengthy prison term. He wants his client housed at a women's prison.

The judge told the victims he realizes their children were hurt by the scam.

"I think you should do your utmost to not let this unfortunate and horrible thing cut short your childrens' love of music or musical careers," the judge said. "Try to put these unpleasant things aside."
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Old 12-13-2003, 06:40 PM   #2
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I remember this case. It's been awhile, though, since I have seen it.
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Old 12-14-2003, 12:17 AM   #3
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I'm glad to hear about the sentencing, though Yunis' justifications make me angry.

Quote:
"I'm going 12 years to prison for a lot of the things I didn't do," Yunis told the crowd of people victimized in a scam involving music lessons for their children.
Yeah, right.
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Old 12-14-2003, 12:29 AM   #4
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Angry

Typical criminal
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