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L.A. investor convicted of stealing $21 million from clients

May 20, 2011 |  8:00 am

An L.A. businessman and real estate developer faces up to 80 years in prison after being found guilty of multiple wire fraud charges involving the theft of about $21 million from four clients.

Ezri Namvar, 59, of Brentwood was convicted Thursday of four felony counts by a federal jury that deliberated for about three hours after hearing eight days of testimony.

The jury convicted a second defendant, Hamid Tabatabai, 63, of Agoura Hills on the four wire fraud charges. Tabatabai was Namvar’s top assistant at his company.

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson ordered Namvar, who is free on bond, to be subject to home incarceration with electronic monitoring. Anderson will consider June 1 whether to remand Namvar into custody.

Prosecutors alleged during trial that the four victims entered into agreements to have approximately $25 million deposited with Namvar’s company, Namco Financial Exchange Corp., for use in real estate transactions.

According to prosecutors, under exchange agreements with NFE, the victims' money was to be held in safekeeping so it could be available upon demand.

But instead of holding the money as promised, Namvar, with the assistance of Tabatabai, used the victims’ money for a variety of unauthorized and undisclosed purposes, prosecutors said.

The four victims entered into agreements with NFE in 2008 and wired the money over a six-month period. NFE was forced into bankruptcy proceedings in April 2009.

Namvar and Tabatabai are scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 22.


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-- Richard Winton