North County investment fraudster sentenced to five years in prison

The Paso Robles businesswoman who pleaded not guilty this summer to fraud charges for cheating investors out of $1.3 million in a real estate lending case was sentenced Tuesday to five years in San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Linda Kennedy, 49, was arrested in July in connection with crimes committed while she was president of 21st Century Financial Resources Inc.

Judge Barry LaBarbera determined the sentencing and set a restitution hearing for the victims on June 4, 2013.

At Tuesday’s hearing, 10 victims spoke and letters from other victims were submitted to the court, according to the District Attorney’s office. The probation department will be contacting victims by letter in the coming months for restitution determinations, officials in the District Attorney’s office said.

"Hard money" lenders provide money to borrowers more quickly than banks but at higher interest rates, typically around 12 percent to 14 percent. The lenders pool investor money into securities backed by real estate deeds and are considered a high risk/high return investment.