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DSA In the News

More details emerge in murder of Woodside artist

Published on 6/25/2010

REDWOOD CITY — A Woodside real estate investor charged with killing his wife to collect the money from her life insurance policy delayed entering a plea Thursday to a count of murder.

Pooroushasb "Peter" Parineh, 64, is due back in court July 1 to enter a plea in the slaying of 56-year-old Parima Parineh, with the motive of financial gain. The charge makes him eligible for the death penalty if he is convicted.

Prosecutor Al Giannini said the insurance policy — the value of which has not been disclosed by authorities but is believed to be worth at least several million dollars — had been held long enough to pay out in the event of suicide. Insurance companies typically require a policy to have been issued two years before a self-inflicted death for it to be payable.

Meanwhile, more details are emerging about Peter Parineh's life and business dealings in the months and years leading up to April 13. On that day, police were called to the couple's multimillion-dollar Woodside home on a report that Parima Parineh had shot and killed herself.

A longtime business associate said this week that Peter Parineh had amassed $155 million in real estate holdings by roughly 2007. His specialty was buying commercial properties that were then leased to companies, said Shyam Chetal, who did business with Peter Parineh for 12 years.

"He loved money," the 64-year-old Dublin resident said. "He was a good businessman."

Chetal described Peter Parineh as a brilliant person who came to the United States from Iran as a young man with his then-22-year-old wife, Parima. Peter Parineh graduated from UC Berkeley in 1967 with a degree in mechanical engineering, though he eventually gravitated toward investing in real estate.

In subsequent years, his wife bore three children — two sons and a daughter — and worked toward becoming a respected painter.

A website dedicated to Parima Parineh's work lists a string of first-place awards at Bay Area art shows. Friends who asked not to be identified said she was a soft-spoken, loving woman who was passionate about her artwork.

But the couple's life and finances were not perfect and became less so as the years passed. Peter Parineh's real estate investments were heavily impacted as the credit crunch and real-estate meltdown were hitting with full force in 2008.

Chetal gave the example of a commercial building in Los Altos that Peter Parineh bought for $11.5 million in 2006.

In September 2009, the bank increased the interest rate on his loan from 6.5 percent to 12.5 percent, Chetal said.

Peter Parineh could no longer make his payments, and Chetal said the last he'd heard, the building was in foreclosure.

According to the Santa Clara County Assessor's Office, the building is still owned by Austiaj Limited Partnership II, which is headed by Peter Parineh.

At the time of Parima Parineh's death, the couple was delinquent on property tax payments for three homes on the Peninsula: their primary residence at 50 Fox Hill Road, which is in foreclosure; a home on Whiskey Hill Road in Woodside that friends say Parima Parineh used as a studio; and a house at 20978 Saraview Court in Saratoga.

There were also several lawsuits filed by and against the Parinehs.

One of them was a lengthy legal battle with a neighbor over a driveway, and another was over a real-estate deal gone sour.

The latter went to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno and ended with Peter Parineh being ordered to pay $1.1 million to a business partner.

Peter Parineh also suffered from health problems over the years, including a painful circulation problem in one of his feet and heart problems, sources said.

Parima Parineh appears to have had troubles of her own.

On March 16, San Mateo County sheriff's deputies temporarily hospitalized her for psychiatric reasons. They also confiscated several guns.

Friends of the couple said that, despite the problems, there was little indication tragedy was in the offing.

"It is a horrible, horrible thing," said a friend who asked not to be identified. "It was such a waste of a beautiful life."