Bouquets and Brickbats

Estate Financial swindlers’ sentences were too light

letters@thetribunenews.comMay 23, 2013 

Karen Guth wipes away a tear while she and her son, Joshua Yaguda, listen as their attorneys argue on their behalf during their sentencing hearing in San Luis Obispo in December 2009.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenew.com Buy Photo

We knew it was coming, but it’s still an outrage to see the perpetrators of one of the biggest swindles in San Luis Obispo County history released from prison so soon. We’re talking about Joshua Yaguda and his mother, Karen Guth, who defrauded investors of millions of dollars through the now defunct Estate Financial.

Yaguda, who was sentenced to eight years in prison, was released after three years. Guth, who received a 12-year sentence, is expected to be out next year, after serving just four years behind bars.

The two had already served one year in County Jail at the time of sentencing, which knocked some time off their prison sentences. Participating in work and educational programs in prison makes inmates eligible for further reductions.

Even with that explanation, California’s convoluted sentencing rules make little sense to the general public and, especially in egregious cases like this one, leave the victims feeling cheated when criminals are released so early.

As we said at the time of sentencing, Yaguda’s and Guth’s prison terms were a small price to pay for defrauding innocent investors out of millions of dollars and, in many cases, robbing elderly people of their life savings. We still believe it — and the criminal justice system gets hit with a brickbat for a case in which the punishment did not fit the crime.

Cal Poly students doing good

Cal Poly students are not only known for learning by doing — but also for learning by doing good.

Each spring, a graduate-level project management class at Cal Poly works with local volunteers to complete a home renovation for a disabled person.

But this year’s class, led by professor Roya Javadpour, decided to test its resourcefulness and spread the relief by coordinating three separate projects: installing hardwood floors and a lift system for two brothers in Paso Robles; installing a similar lift system in a Grover Beach woman’s home for her adult son; and modifying a Paso Robles family’s home so their quadriplegic son can access the backyard.

To the committed Professor Javadpour (who has led the PolyHouse project for 10 years), her big-thinking students, and generous others who volunteered time and materials, we toss a blueprint-for-good bouquet.

Education cuts shortchange kids

Never mind keeping up with the Joneses. We’d be happy if California could keep up with the state of Virginia, which ranked 25th in per-pupil spending in 2011. California, on the other hand, came in 35th, according to newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It spent $9,139 per student, compared to Virginia’s $10,364.

California’s level of spending should improve as revenue from the passage of Proposition 30 flows to schools, but that’s small comfort to students who already have been shortchanged by cuts to education. We’re dinging California lawmakers with a behind-the-curve brickbat for being at the bottom of the list when it comes to supporting education.

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