Real Estate Investor Gets 7 Years For Wire Fraud
Ezri Namvar, a real estate investor who was formerly a pillar of the Los Angeles Iranian Jewish community, was sentenced yesterday to seven years in federal prison for wire fraud, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Namvar stole more than $20 million from his clients – many of whom are Iranian Jews who worshipped at the same Orthodox synagogue as Namvar.
Namvar’s company Namco would hold the proceeds investors made from commercial real estate sales until a new property was found for investment. This helped investors avoid paying taxes on the proceeds from those sales.
But Namvar used that money to pay creditors of another company he controlled.
When that second company collapsed, Namvar was unable to repay the investors accounts.
One of Namvar’s victims told the court that she had been financially devastated by Namvar, so much so that she was now unable to pay for physical therapy for her disabled child.
Through his attorney, Namvar argued for leniency, claiming that he told investors that he would invest their money in his other businesses.
Namvar would have repaid the money, his attorney Marc S. Harris said. But when the financial and real estate markets collapsed in the fall of 2008, Namvar’s companies collapsed.
These losses were “not reasonably forseeable,” Harris said.
Harris also touted Namvar’s “millions of dollars” of donations to charity.
But the $20 million Namvar stole may not be the end of the story.
Dozens of investors in Namvar’s real estate development company, Namco Capital Group Inc., claim Namvar misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars.
"My clients are happy to see him go to prison, but they hope this is not the end of the investigation by the FBI," A. David Youssefyeh, an attorney who represents investors with claims against Namvar's real estate development company told the Los Angelese Times. "We're hoping now that this case is over they'll concentrate on the other case and figure out what happened there."