A year ago, jewelry store owner Safieh Fard did something her sister and two of her sons did the year before: plead guilty in Santa Ana federal court to charges related to mortgage scams the family pulled with Newport Beach oceanfront properties for years. But heading into sentencing, the then-50-year-old asked to withdraw her plea, a request U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney granted.
Not that it mattered in the end.
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A federal jury last Wednesday convicted Fard of one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and one count of conspiracy to launder the proceeds of bank fraud obtained after submitting fraudulent mortgage applications.
Fard owned Belvedere Fine Jewelry on Via Oporto, but from 1997 through 2004 she had a side business with sister Sedigheh Bahramian and sons Mohsen Kikalaye and Ahmad Kikalaye: buying and flipping pricey beachfront properties.
But it wasn't enough that the family made tons of dough the old fashioned way (buy low, sell high). First, as a joint investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, IRS Criminal Investigation division and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations of Orange County discovered, Fard and her co-conspirators 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.
Fard is now scheduled to be sentenced on April 8, 2013. This time, she does not have a plea to withdraw. The last time, her lawyer was going to argue for probation because of the jeweler's declining health. Having watched the one-year delay of justice, we'll see if Judge Carney is in any mood to entertain that.