The owner of a Costa Mesa dealership specializing in Audi Spyder, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, Lotus, Maserati, Porsche, Rolls Royce and other high-end luxury cars is accused of embezzling $3 million from those buying and selling vehicles at his business.
Farhad Ebadat, the 37-year-old operator of Bellagio Motors, faces up to nearly 35 years in state prison with a conviction.
The Costa Mesa Police Department began investigating the Huntington Beach resident a few years ago before turning the case over earlier this year to Orange County Auto Theft Task Force (OCATT), "a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement program that investigates, arrests and prosecutes professional and career criminals responsible for Orange County vehicle thefts," according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
From 2009 to 2012, Ebadat allegedly defrauded sellers of high-end vehicles by falsely claiming he would keep them on consignment, pay the owners and transfer the car titles to the purchasers. But he is accused of selling cars worth $25,000 to $225,000 and then diverting the payments to his own personal accounts.
In turn, Ebadat is accused of defrauding unknowing buyers who paid for the vehicles in full but were unable to obtain legal car titles because the owners holding the titles had not been paid. Some purchased vehicles were never delivered to customers, according to the OCDA.
He is further accused of abruptly closing Bellagio Motors, vacating the premises and moving from Orange County to a rental home in Bermuda Dunes once the OCATT took over the investigation, as well as emptying his bank accounts and wire-transferring money to accounts in France and Iran.
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Ebadat was arrested Dec. 3 and was scheduled to be arraigned today in Santa Ana. He is charged with 15 felony counts of embezzlement by fiduciary of trust, 15 felony counts of money laundering, and 11 felony counts of grand theft by false pretenses with sentencing enhancements and allegations for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and $1.3 million.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 34 years and eight months in state prison. To make his $3 million bail, he "must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source," according to the OCDA, which adds Ebadat is also subject to a no-bail Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.
And the investigation against him is ongoing, meaning if other victims come forward the counts against him (and possible prison time) could increase. Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is asked to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Anthony Sosnowski at 714.664.3943, or OCATT detective Rick Henry at 714.634.1385.