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Bankrupt Nampa broker sentenced to prison

Associated Press Published: June 12, 2012
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CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) — A former Nampa real estate broker who pleaded guilty to grand theft rather than face trial on allegations he took more than $400,000 from business clients has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Jerry Gunstream, 62, was sentenced Monday in 3rd District Court and must serve a minimum of at least two years. He had sought probation based on his having no previous felony convictions and did not pose a risk to the community.

"The factors that favor prison outweigh the factors that favor probation," Judge Thomas Ryan said. "A penitentiary sentence is appropriate in this case, Mr. Gunstream. That's now your debt to society."

He was credited with 137 days he's served in the Canyon County Jail. His attorney called that self-punishment because Gunstream could have met the $10,000 bond.

"There hasn't been a day that I haven't thought, and cried, and wondered how I could have done what I did," Gunstream said. "How I could have turned my back on everything I stood for, how I could have disgraced my family and ruined my reputation."

Gunstream pleaded guilty to grand theft in April. He told investigators he transferred money out of tenants' accounts when he needed it to cover his own expenses because his income from real estate sales had declined. He reported $2.1 million in debt when filing for bankruptcy.

His attorney, Alan Coffel, said Gunstream's motive wasn't greed but an "almost biblical" pride.

"Mr. Gunstream is here before this court facing jail time because he couldn't face the ruination of his business," Coffel said.

Gunstream apologized for his actions.

"I'm sorry, your honor, and I'm sorry to everyone in this courtroom," he said. "'Sorry' is shallow when you've got money to return, and I know that. I want to be an example of a man who really screwed up, but didn't give up, because I have so much to live for."

One of the victims, Tom Schuveiller, said the money is probably gone for good, though Gunstream said he hoped to make things right eventually.

"Most likely we're never going to see any money out of this," Schuveiller said. "But if this will deter others from doing things like this, then I guess that's the best we can do."