By Adam Popescu, 10/20/2011
Ezri Namvar Scammed Hundreds of Investors
On Tuesday Oct. 11, Ezri Namvar, the man known as the Bernie Madoff of Beverly Hills, was sentenced in Downtown L.A. Federal Court to 7 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and $21 million in restitution after his conviction for four counts of wire fraud.
Once a well-respected local civic leader, Namvar, 60, used his power and influence to defraud, con and betray a slew of Westside Iranian immigrants, said A. David Youssefyeh, an attorney representing numerous defrauded investors.
Namvar’s downfall and resulting conviction has rocked the close-knit Persian-Jewish community. Outspoken in their contempt, investors with claims against Namco Capital Group, Namvar’s real estate company, claim he actually stole more than $500 million in connection to what many have labeled a Ponzi scheme: a $2.5 billion real estate portfolio before it collapsed in the 2008 market crash.
Under the umbrella of Namco, Namvar took in investments from many who invested their life savings, funneling that money into acquiring properties like the J.W. Marriott in downtown Los Angeles, hotels in Nevada and Niagara Falls. Many of these properties failed to generate enough cash flow to cover the interest that Namvar had promised to his investors. In 2008, the investments turned sour and in December 2008, Namvar was forced into involuntary bankruptcy and accused by investors of creating the aforementioned $500 million ponzi scheme. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against Namvar, his company Namco, and other entities owned by him and family members, alleging breach of contract and contractual fraud in a case that attorneys estimate involves hundreds of creditors.
On May 19, the trial of Namvar and co-defendant Hamid Tabatabai concluded after only 3 hours of deliberation by the jury. The pair were found guilty on four counts of wire fraud in the theft of $21 million. While victims’ monies were to be held in escrow until a transaction could be executed on new property purchase, Namvar and Tabatabai instead used that money to pay off creditors and investors of Namco Capital Group, Inc.
Since his guilty verdict, Namvar has reportedly lived in his $8 million mansion while awaiting sentencing.
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