Namvar declines to enter plea
The judge agrees to delay it and sets bail at $300,000 for the real estate investor.
Indicted real estate mogul Ezri Namvar declined to enter a plea in his first court appearance on federal charges that he stole $23 million from clients.
Judge Paul Abrams postponed the plea until Monday at the request of Namvar’s attorney.
Abrams set bail at $300,000 for Namvar, who amassed billions of dollars in commercial real estate before his firm was forced into involuntary bankruptcy. The judge turned down a request from federal prosecutors that Namvar’s movements be restricted mostly to his home.
Instead, Abrams said that Namvar could not travel outside the court’s jurisdiction, which runs from San Luis Obispo in the north through Orange County. Namvar also was told to surrender his passport.
His attorney, Marc Harris, told the court, “He’s not going anywhere. He’s here to fight this case.”
Harris said Namvar planned to post bail with the help of his family and with equity from his Brentwood home.
Namvar, 59, stood behind a glass partition during the hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. If found guilty on all counts, he could face a maximum senruptcy tence of 100 years in prison.
The indictment, which was issued last week, alleges that Namvar took clients’ funds that were supposed to be held in escrow in one of his companies and used them to pay investors and creditors of another.
Several of his former clients were on hand for the proceedings.
“I am not happy to see him in handcuffs,” said Massoud Eshmoili afterward. Eshmoili, a fabric wholesaler in Los Angeles, said he’d lost his life savings to Namvar.
“None of us really want to see him in jail for the rest of his life,” he said. “We just want our money back.”
Like most of Namvar’s former clients, Eshmoili is part of Los Angeles’ Iranian Jewish community. Before being forced into bank- in 2008, Namvar was a highly respected member of the community.
Abraham Assil, a Los Angeles real estate investor who said he had lost $6 million with Namvar, said the community was coming to the aid of alleged victims.
“There are people who are living in garages, living in basements, because they’ve lost everything to Ezri Namvar,” Assil said. “They aren’t going on welfare, they aren’t looking for government help. They’re relying on others in our community for help.
“We tried to solve these problems in our community with Ezri first, but all it did was give him more time to rip us off.”