Judge condemns ‘piranha’ for bilking San Bruno blast aid 

A judge called this man a “piranha” before sentencing him to nearly three years in prison for posing as a San Bruno disaster victim in order to bilk financial aid.

Daniel Leon Stansbury, 41, of Los Altos, was one of seven people charged with stealing aid intended for victims of the devastating Sept. 9 pipeline explosion.

Of the seven charged for the scam, Stansbury snagged the most benefits and also earned the stiffest sentence. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to two years and eight months in state prison, with 361 days credit for time already served.

He was also ordered to pay $2,715 restitution to Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which provided the aid.

Stansbury went to the victim’s aid center in San Bruno and lied about being a resident in the blast zone in order to pick up an array of benefits, prosecutors said. Benefits included gift cards, free cell phones and hotel accommodations.

Stansbury twice went to the disaster aid center, listing two separate San Bruno addresses on his applications. In those trips, he netted two $1,000 gift cards from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which owns the pipes that exploded.

He also got a 13-day stay in hotel rooms and a rental car for the entire period, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Cops found Stansbury in his San Jose Hilton hotel room. In the room, police found $5,900 in cash and “loads” of computer printouts showing San Bruno addresses in the disaster zone, along with forms for applying for aid, Wagstaffe said.

Prosecutors also learned that while Stansbury was stealing aid on Jan. 20, he was in court battling misdemeanor charges for an unrelated theft case in San Bruno.

On Tuesday, Stansbury’s attorney requested that Stansbury be released from jail and offered probation.

Judge Lisa Novak did not agree, saying “the defendant was a ‘piranha’ who had taken advantage of the good will of the community and had been given enough chances at probation,” Wagstaffe said.

Prosecutors were unhappy with the sentences slapped on some of the other crooks who bilked benefits. Last month, 42-year-old Lisa Monique Justin and 44-year-old Sonya Smith received three years probation for attempting the scam.

“We’ve said from Day 1, we believe anybody who takes advantage of a situation like this belongs in prison,” Wagstaffe said in January.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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