A Newport Beach jewelry store owner, who withdrew her guilty plea in a family mortgage scam case just before sentencing only to be found guilty in Santa Ana federal court anyway, has learned her fate. U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney sentenced 52-year-old Safieh Fard to 63 months in prison.
Fard must also pay a $200 special assessment and $594,034.50 in restitution, although Carney waived interest that had been mounting on that amount.
The owner of Belvedere Fine Jewelry on Via Oporto in Newport Beach had a side business from 1997 through 2004 with sister Sedigheh Bahramian and sons Mohsen Kikalaye and Ahmad Kikalaye: buying and flipping pricey beachfront properties.
But a multi-agency investigation revealed the family members lied up a storm on their mortgage applications. For instance, Fard falsely stated she earned more than $40,000 a month, despite claiming no taxable income on her federal income tax returns during the scam's eight-year run.
The properties were sold to third parties, but the conspiring family failed to report capital gains on more than $3.7 million from these sales on their federal income tax returns. Fard's sons received lump sum payments by either check or wire transfers that were moved between various bank accounts before landing in one under the name of Ahmad Kikalaye. He would then make withdrawals just under the $10,000 federal reporting requirement. Some of that money was used to buy more properties.
More on the case here:
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The other family members pleaded guilty. So did Fard, but heading into sentencing she withdrew the plea and was convicted anyway. During her new sentencing, Carney obviously rejected the plea of her lawyer for no prison time due to the jewelry store owner's declining health.
Fard was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and launder the proceeds of bank fraud obtained after submitting fraudulent mortgage applications. For one count she drew 60 months imprisonment, for the other 63 months, but Carney ordered those punishments be served concurrently.