Crime

Suspects charged with art theft

By Aaron Blevins, 1/10/2013

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Six people have pleaded not guilty in connection with the $3.2 million theft of paintings, wine, jewelry and a car from financier Jeffrey Gundlach in September, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Darren Agee Merager, 43, allegedly broke into Gundlach’s Santa Monica home between Sept. 12 and Sept. 13, 2012, and stole valuable artwork, jewelry and wine, said Deputy District Attorney Alva Lin. Merager then allegedly returned hours later and stole Gundlach’s Porsche at the behest of Jay Jeffrey Nieto, 45.

Nieto allegedly helped conceal the stolen art and other items at his Pasadena store. Pasadena police, who received a tip, and the Santa Monica Police Department investigated the case.

Charged as co-conspirators are Merager’s 68-year-old mother, Brenda Joyce Merager, and two brothers, 29-year-old Wanis George Wahba and 26-year-old Ely George Wahba. The three allegedly tried to sell and conceal the stolen items. In addition, Wilmer Bolosan Cadiz, 40, is charged with conspiracy and receiving stolen items.

The six, who are charged with multiple counts of first-degree residential burglary, conspiracy and receiving stolen property, are scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 18.

Prosecutors will ask that bail be set at $10 million for each defendant.

Merager, who has multiple prior convictions, is facing more than nine years in state prison if convicted.

 

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