Jarmin and Jordan fraud case draws to end with mistrial

Following numerous twists and turns, a decade-old hard-money lending fraud case drew to a close this week with a mistrial and a subsequent decision by San Luis Obispo County prosecutors not to seek another trial.

Rodney Jarmin and Tammy Jordan, who were the principals of Paso Robles-based hard-money lending firm Real Property Lenders (RPL), stood accused of fraudulently selling securities to hundreds of investors, primarily seniors. Through RPl, the duo would entice locals to invest in real estate developments they knew were failing, under false assurances that investor monies were secure, investigators alleged.

In April 2014, Jarmin and Jordan were arrested in connection with a scheme in which they allegedly swindled more than 700 investors out of $30 million. Each of the felony counts were punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10 million fines.

Yet, Jarmin and Jordan reached a plea deal with prosecutors, after which a San Luis Obispo judge reduced the seven felonies to misdemeanors. The plea deal allowed the defendants to escape jail time, and it set restitution at just $107,200 for Jarmin and only $7,200 for Jordan.

Prosecutors then challenged the plea deal, arguing the judge mistakenly reduced the offenses to misdemeanors. In a series of decisions, the plea agreement was revoked, reinstated and eventually overturned again.

Last month, a trial began. Testimony lasted four weeks, during which prosecutors attempted to prove Jarmin and Jordan violated the law by failing to disclose loan defaults to investors. On Tuesday, a San Luis Obispo jury announced it could not reach a unanimous verdict in the case.

Jurors split 11-1 in favor of acquittal on one count and 8-4 in favor of acquittal on two other counts. Judge Jacqueline Duffy then declared a mistrial.

Following the mistrial declaration, the district attorney’s prosecution team interviewed jurors and weighed their insight, as well as the available evidence and outcomes of the jury votes. The DA’s prosecution team concluded that a retrial likely would not result in a different outcome.

“While we are very mindful of the significance of this case to the individual investors, and our community as a whole, we are convinced there is little likelihood of securing unanimous verdicts at a retrial,” District Attorney Dan Dow said in a statement. “Although the conduct occurred in 2007, all of the admissible evidence was presented in a clear and fair fashion by our team and the jury was by all accounts attentive and diligent in their deliberations. I am very proud of the professionalism and hard work of our team and we thank the jury for their time and attention during the lengthy trial.”