LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Ezri Namvar, a businessman and philanthropist in the Los Angeles Iranian-Jewish community, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for stealing $21 million from four clients.
U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson on Tuesday also ordered Namvar to pay back the $21 million in restitution to his victims, and put him under three years supervision following his prison term.
Anderson described Namvar, who wept at times during the court session, as a man who had lost his way after immigrating and building a successful real estate investment empire from scratch, according to media reports.
In addition to the $21 million, Namvar is believed to have bilked investors, who put money into his $2.5 billion real estate portfolio before the 2008 market crash, of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Many of his victims were residents of the large Iranian-Jewish enclave in Beverly Hills, and some media took to labeling Namvar as “The Bernie Madoff of Beverly Hills.”
A number of elderly victims told the court that Namvar had robbed them of their lifetime and retirement savings.
Marc Harris, Namvar’s attorney, said he would appeal the sentence and described his client as a man of good character who had “donated millions of dollars to numerous charities, schools and medical research centers locally and internationally.”