Berkeley Residents Get Prison Time For Pay Phone Scam By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 10, 2005

Daniel David, Berkeley resident and son of well-known chef and wine expert Narsai David, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Friday for his role in a phone scam. 

David, 39, and Scott D. Nisbett, 42, another Berkeley resident, were convicted last year for their roles in a phone scam that federal prosecutors said netted them nearly a half-million dollars. 

The pair was arrested in March 2002 following a two-year investigation by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. 

Both men were charged in a 17-count indictment with mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy, with an additional tax fraud count filed against David. 

The two leased 24 pay phone lines, of which 23 were routed to an office space in South San Francisco where an automatic phone dialer was rigged to make endless calls to toll-free 800 numbers. 

The scam netted 24 cents per call that phone companies give to pay phone owners for calls made from their leased lines to toll-free numbers. The phone companies are automatically reimbursed by the businesses that operate the toll-free numbers. 

David and Nisbett leased the lines under the fictitious names of Bill Jansen and Dave Jacobs, and the payments were made to a mail drop in Arizona. 

According to the indictment, the pair signed over their telephone company checks to an attorney’s client trust fund. The lawyer, in turn, then made out checks to David and Nisbett. 

The auto-dialers made more than two million calls before the pair was arrested. 

Nisbett was sentenced in April to a 15-month prison term.