Judge sentences man to prison for stealing Scottsdale home

Vincente Anzu stole a house from a dead man through a complex process. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison on Tuesday.
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 7:15 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 27, 2023 at 11:53 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The home was supposed to remain in the Gotlieb family for at least another generation. It contained Jerry Gotlieb’s possessions, photos and documents that his children wanted to keep long after Jerry’s 2019 death. But late in the year, Jerry’s daughter Debi discovered the home had been stolen and sold out from under her.

Four years later, a California man named Vicente Anzu was sentenced to five years in prison for the crime.

“Cold, calculating, greedy, deceitful” is how Debi described Anzu to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville.

According to police and prosecutors, Anzu impersonated Jerry Gotlieb and sold the home to Zillow. Zillow was in the process of reselling the home to someone else when Debi got wind of the sale. It took months and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees for her to get the house back, but all of her father’s possessions were gone. “This crime has hurt my family for generations,” Gotlieb said in her victim impact statement.

Anzu apologized to her for his role in the theft but said he did not set foot in the home and did not know there were personal belongings inside.

Judge Granville sentenced Anzu to more than the recommended prison time, citing aggravating factors in the case. “Justice would have been — there would have been a box with dad’s stuff that would have been returned, and so we could have full restitution, but we can’t have that,” Granville said from the bench.

Anzu was taken into custody immediately and taken to prison to serve his sentence. Afterward, Gotlieb said she had mixed feelings about the result. “I feel like there’s a little bit of closure,” she said. “I feel like there’s a lot more to do. I now need to protect people from this happening to them in the future.”

Gotlieb is proposing new protections she calls “Jerry’s Law,” which would protect property owners from deed theft. In June, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer implemented a new notification system that sends an email to residents when someone tries to change the status of their property.

You can sign up for the county’s free Title Alert here.

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