John Farahi, of Bel Air Estates, California, was named in a 41-count indictment returned on December 7, 2011 by a federal grand jury. The former investment fund manager defrauded investors out of millions of dollars by falsely promising investors their money would be invested conservatively to purchase corporate bonds backed by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and then collaborating with his corporate counsel to cover-up the fraud.
Farahi, a former Reno, Nevada City Council Member and Farsi-language radio investment advisor, instead used the investment funds for a variety of personal purposes, including to support his family’s lavish lifestyle, to make Ponzi payments to early clients of his investment fund, and to trade in high-risk and speculative future options trading. Farahi was able to attract many of his clients through his daily radio show in which he touted a conservative investment philosophy. Most of his clients were members of the Southern California Iranian-Jewish community.
In the face of huge trading losses at the end of 2008, Farahi allegedly tried to extend the scheme by drawing down extensively on lines of credits at banks while making false statements to those banks about his financial condition. The victim banks included TARP recipients Bank of America and U.S. Bank as well as Sun West Bank.
The indictment charges Farahi with 16 counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, five counts of offering for sale unregistered securities, four counts of loan fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, five counts of alteration of documents, one count of suborning perjury, one count of concealing a material fact, one count of witness tampering. If he is convicted of the 40 counts in which he is charged, Farahi would face a statutory maximum sentence of 717 years in federal prison.
It is alleged that Farahi’s scheme lasted from 2005 until 2010. The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) had filed a federal complaint alleging violations of federal securities laws against Farahi and other in January 2010. Many of the charges Farahi now faces are derived from his attempts to mislead, conceal, and redirect the SEC’s investigation. Otherwise known as cover-up crimes, targets of federal investigations often get themselves into more trouble early on in an investigation by lying to investigators or acting unethically. Now that the SEC has referred the case to the DOJ for criminal prosecution, Farahi now faces a significant number of charges in addition to his initial fraud scheme.
The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.