Merced man sentenced to 11 years in prison in contracting scam

Jesse Munoz, 40, Merced
Jesse Munoz, 40, Merced Merced County Sheriff’s Office

A Merced man who pleaded no contest to scamming more than 20 people out of thousands of dollars for contracting work he failed to do has been ordered to serve more than 11 years in prison, officials with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office reported.

Jesse Munoz, 40, was accused of five counts of white-collar grand theft of more than $100,000 and five counts of diverting construction funds, Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall said. He pleaded no contest and was issued the sentence by Merced Superior Court Commissioner Jeanne Schechter on Friday.

Munoz posed as a contractor from May 2012 to December 2013, taking deposits for his work and then disappearing after starting the jobs or failing to show up altogether, Wall said. Munoz cheated more than 20 people out of their money, causing financial hardship for many of his victims, he said.

“I trusted Munoz, and I gave him the money,” Jesus Rojas said in a statement to the District Attorney’s Office. “I’m a hardworking man. ... Munoz lied to me, betrayed my trust and stole from me.”

Munoz was convicted once before of scamming people out of their money. In 2009, he was sentenced to five years in state prison on 15 counts of theft by false pretense.