CA upholds estafa conviction vs 'Pyramiding Queen'

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the ruling of a lower court in Makati City, which found "pyramiding queen" Rosario Baladjay guilty of estafa in connection with her company's operations in 2001.

In a 70-page ruling issued on June 6, 2016, the CA 9th Division gave credence to the findings of Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 56 in its ruling dated March 4, 2014.

The Appellate Court ruled that "In Criminal Case No. 03-1958, Baladjay is sentenced to an indeterminate imprisonment of 4 years and 1 month to 15 years."

"In Criminal Case Nos 03-1958, 03-3572, 07-2673 to 74, appellant's civil liability shall earn legal interest at 6 percent per annum until the obligation is fully paid, conformably with BSP-MB Circular No. 799, Series of 2013," the ruling penned by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier stated.

The earlier ruling of Makati RTC ordering her imprisonment of 6 years and 1 day to 20 years was lowered by the CA under Criminal Case No. 03-1958.

Baladjay was the owner and operator of Multinational Telecom Investors Corp. (Multitel), which had duped hundreds of investors in the so-called pyramiding business of some P20 million. Multitel was not registered with the SEC.

The SEC had issued multiple cease and desist orders against Multitel and its officers, which prompted Baladjay to register Multitel International Holdings Inc. (MIHI) with the SEC. The MIHI, though registered with the SEC, continued its illegal operations.

The CA had also affirmed the rest of the ruling of the RTC which includes the order to pay private complainants Manuel Alzona the amount of P100,000 and Norberta Mangibin the amount of P270,000; an imprisonment of 10 years to 20 years under criminal case 03-572, another 10-20 years jail under criminal case 07-2673, and also 10-20 years imprisonment under criminal case no. 07-2674.

The RTC found Baladjay guilty for 65 counts of Estafa, prompting her to seek redress with the appellate court.

The CA however stressed that the RTC was right when it found Baladjay guilty of the criminal cases filed against her.

Baladjay was arrested in March 2003 in Mangaldan, Pangasinan.

In February 2008, Makati RTC Judge Cesar Untalan convicted Baladjay of the crime of syndicated estafa and sentenced her to a minimum penalty of 12 years and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for violation of the Section 8 of the SRC (selling or offering for sale or distribution unregistered securities to the public).

On May 9, 2008, Baladjay was transferred from Makati City Jail where she was detained since 2003 to the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City. (Sunnex)

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