Ezri Namvar, the well known LA-based real estate investor, was yesterday convicted by a federal jury of wire fraud charges alleging that he stole almost $21 million from clients who had invested with him.
The former owner of the Marriott Hotel in LA was found guilty on four investment fraud charges that relate to his Namco Financial Exchange Corp. firm, which was responsible for holding client’s real estate sales proceeds.
Companies such as his are normally used as a shelter for such proceeds, allowing investors to avoid capital gains taxes until they decide where to reinvest the money.
Namvar, according to the prosecution, diverted the funds of four of his clients without their knowledge or permission.
The 59-year old will be sentenced in August. He could face up to 80 years in prison if he gets the maximum.
Namvar’s assistant Hamid Tabatabai was also convicted by jurors on the same charges, and will be sentenced at the same time as his boss.
Namvar was said to be “very disappointed” by the verdict, according to his attorney Marc Harris, and would definitely appeal. Harris had attempted to motion a mistrial because he was unable to present evidence that Namvar had intended to repay the investors through the sale of other properties.
“We feel wronged that we were not allowed to present critical information to the jurors, and we believe that prosecutors took full advantage of that,” Harris complained.
“My client is extremely disappointed, but ultimately he believes he will be vindicated.”
Meanwhile attorney A. David Youssefyeh, who represented some of the victims in the case, said that his clients were “delighted” with the jury’s decision.
“For anyone who knows how Mr. Namvar does business, this verdict doesn’t come as a surprise. Everybody knew he was crooked,” said Youssefyeh.
“In light of the magnitude of his crimes, we hope he is given the maximum sentence.”