The owner of a Costa Mesa dealership specializing in Audi Spyder, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus,
Lotus, Maserati, Porsche, Rolls Royce and other high-end luxury cars is accused of embezzling $3 million from those buying and selling vehicles at his business.
Farhad Ebadat, the 37-year-old operator of Bellagio Motors, faces up to nearly 35 years in state prison with a conviction.
The Costa Mesa Police Department began investigating the Huntington Beach resident a few years ago before turning the case over earlier this year to Orange
County Auto Theft Task Force (OCATT), “a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement program that
investigates, arrests and prosecutes professional and career criminals
responsible for Orange County vehicle thefts,” according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
From 2009 to 2012, Ebadat allegedly defrauded sellers of high-end vehicles by
falsely claiming he would keep them on consignment, pay the owners
and transfer the car titles to the purchasers. But he is accused
of selling cars worth $25,000 to $225,000 and then
diverting the payments to his own personal accounts.
In turn, Ebadat is
accused of defrauding unknowing buyers who paid for the vehicles in full
but were unable to obtain legal car titles because the owners holding
the titles had not been paid. Some purchased vehicles were never delivered to customers, according to the OCDA.
He is further accused of abruptly closing Bellagio Motors, vacating the premises and
moving from Orange County to a rental home in Bermuda
Dunes once the OCATT took over the investigation, as well as emptying his bank accounts and
wire-transferring money to accounts in France and Iran.
Ebadat was arrested Dec. 3 and was scheduled to be arraigned today in Santa Ana. He is
charged with 15 felony counts of embezzlement by fiduciary of trust, 15
felony counts of money laundering, and 11 felony counts of grand theft
by false pretenses with sentencing enhancements and allegations for
aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and $1.3 million.
convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 34 years and eight months
in state prison. To make his $3 million bail, he “must
prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source,” according to the OCDA, which adds Ebadat is also subject to a no-bail Immigration and Customs
And the investigation against him is ongoing, meaning if other victims come forward the counts against him (and possible prison time) could increase. Anyone with additional information or who
believes they have been a victim is asked to contact Supervising
District Attorney Investigator Anthony Sosnowski at 714.664.3943, or
OCATT detective Rick Henry at 714.634.1385.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.