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Man who stole $1.4 million from Donald Bren pleads guilty to bank fraud

June 15, 2011 | 12:47 pm

Donaldbren A man accused of stealing a nearly $1.4 million tax return check from billionaire Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren pleaded guilty Monday to one count of bank fraud.

Federal prosecutors say Moundir Kamil, a 41-year-old convicted bank robber, obtained Bren’s Social Security number, date of birth and other personal information and opened an account in Bren’s name in February 2010 at an East West Bank branch in Cerritos.

Bren, a 79-year-old real estate tycoon, is listed as Forbes’ 64th richest person in the world and has an estimated net worth of $12 billion.

Using a fake driver’s license with Bren’s name and Kamil’s picture, Kamil was able to deposit a federal tax return made out to Bren totaling nearly $1.4 million, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have not explained how Kamil got the check. He spent the following months either withdrawing the money or transferring it to other accounts in different names, prosecutors said.

By the time authorities learned of the scheme, only about $265,000 was left in certificates of deposit and cash.

Authorities filed a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in May 2010, but they did not know Kamil’s identity.

Kamil was later identified after police released photos of a suspect at the bank, and a guard at the Santa Ana jail recognized Kamil as a former prisoner.

Kamil previously served 30 months in federal prison for six bank robberies in Orange County.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 19 and faces up to 30 years in prison.


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-- Kate Mather

Photo: Donald Bren. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times