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Crime

John Farahi: Iranian Bernie Madoff? Feds Say $20 Million of L.A. Persian Jews' Money Lost

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Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 12:48 PM

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A Bel Air Estates man whose investment fraud allegedly cost $20 million in losses was indicted by a federal grand jury this week. And since these alleged, mini-Madoffs are getting titles in the news based on ethnicity, we'll call this suspect a potential Iranian Bernie Madoff.

Indeed, prosecutors say 54-year-old John Farahi and his Beverly Hills company, New Point Financial Services, preyed L.A.'s wealthy Iranian-Jewish community, promising conservative investments in bonds backed by the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Feds however, say he took the cash and used it to ...

... support his family's lavish lifestyle, to make Ponzi payments to early clients of New Point Financial Services, and to trade in high-risk and speculative future options trading ...

None of that, apparently, was fruitful, prosecutors say, and Farahi lost $15 million before going to banks and asking for loans based on "false statements," feds allege.

His victims included about 100 rich Iranians in the L.A. area, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office statement. He promoted his investment strategy on a local, Farsi-language radio show, prosecutors say.

Santa Monica attorney David Tamman was indicted as a co-conspirator because he allegedly tried to help Farahi cover-up the paper trail leading to this alleged fraud after the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation.

The fraud is alleged to have happened between 2005 and last year.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Farahi faces ...

... 16 counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, five counts of offering for sale unregistered securities, four counts of loan fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of conspiring with Tamman, four counts of obstruction of justice, five counts of alteration of documents, one count of suborning perjury, one count of concealing a material fact, and one count of witness tampering.

Conviction on all that could lead to a max of 717 years behind bars.

Attorney Tamman, 44, faces ...

... one count of conspiracy, three counts of obstruction of justice, five counts of alteration of records, and one count of being an accessory after the fact to the charged mail fraud and securities violations.

If his case goes prosecutors' way, the lawyer could see a 190-year sentence.

(And that's the U.S. Attorney's Office's way of saying, Make a plea deal, guys).

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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