Realtor convicted of swindling clients sentenced

Victims speak out against Merlinda Matuszewski

SAN DIEGO - A realtor convicted of swindling numerous clients out of thousands of dollars was sentenced Monday.

Merlinda Matuszewski had a real estate license and a tax preparer's license that prosecutors said she used to take money from her victims.

"She took $12,000 from the Eco family as a down payment on a house, except the house was in foreclosure and the Ecos were later thrown out," prosecutor John Cross said during Matuszewski's sentencing hearing.

Convicted on eight felony counts of fraud, the 51-year-old Matuszewski, sitting in a brown jail jumpsuit, heard from two of the three victims, among them Nickel Eco.

"Merlinda, you are a swindler; stop hiding in your church pretending to be a religious person because you are a crook," he said as he read a victim impact statement.  

Manny Ocampo, who also read an impact statement on behalf of his wife, said. "I'm wondering how you can sleep at night Merlinda, with so many people that you hurt."   

Esurance, the online auto insurance company, was also defrauded when Matuszewski reported her 2007 Chevy Equinox stolen.

According to Cross, "Several years later, it was found in her garage covered in boxes, in poor condition and with a dead battery."

Cross also said during this whole process Matuszewski wrote letters to San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumais proclaiming her innocence and how she was wrongly convicted.  

The letters and a probation report, which indicated she has no hint of remorse, will keep her in jail for a year and on five years probation after that.  

Matuszewski was also ordered to destroy any personal records she may have of former clients.

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