Ezri Namvar, The "Bernie Madoff of Beverly Hills," Faces Up To 10 Years In Prison
Ezri Namvar, the so-called "Madoff of Beverly Hills," could face a decade in prison at his sentencing next month.
Namvar, 60, was a prominent banker and real estate investor in L.A.'s Iranian Jewish community. When the real estate bubble burst in 2008, he was forced into bankruptcy. His victims lost up to $1 billion.
Namvar has been under house arrest since May, when he was convicted of wire fraud. In a sentencing memo filed today, prosecutor Brian Klein noted that Namvar remains "unrepentant."
Klein asked Judge Percy Anderson to impose a 10-year sentence. Klein also asked for a five-year sentence for Namvar's right-hand man, Hamid Tabatabai.
Namvar's attorney, meanwhile, pleaded for lenience. Attorney Marc Harris
urged the judge to impose a sentence of zero to six months, arguing
that a lengthy sentence would make it impossible for Namvar to repay his
Namvar immigrated from Iran in the 1970s. Following in his father's footsteps, he became a "hard money" lender. He lent funds for real estate investments at high interest rates, which allowed him to pay his depositors higher rates than banks would offer.
In the early 2000s, according to a bankruptcy trustee's report, he went on a real estate buying spree -- putting his depositors' money into reckless and highly speculative investments. When the market turned, much of his portfolio was lost to foreclosure.
Namvar was convicted at trial for taking $21 million from his financial exchange to pay back other depositors.
Harris argued that Namvar intended to pay those depositors back, but was prevented from doing so because he was forced into bankruptcy.
Namvar made the same argument in a July interview with the L.A. Weekly.
"We got into trouble like everybody else -- Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, everybody," he said. "We would have paid everybody off if it wasn't for the bankruptcy."
He is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 11.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.
- Hollywood Pool Season Extended Through October
Sat., Sep. 5, 12:30pm
Sat., Sep. 5, 8:00pm
Sun., Sep. 6, 12:35pm
Sun., Sep. 6, 1:00pm
- Hotel Owner Charged in Venice Homeless Murder
- L.A.'s Small Business Climate Gets Mediocre Grades