By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
Naz Derboghossian met Mario de la Fuente Manriquez, who fancied luxury cars, at a Lotus dealership in 2000. Only he and Naz know why they became so close. But by several accounts, Naz sometimes referred to Manriquez as "Dad," and the elder man called Naz "son."
In May 2001, Naz used $165,000 from Manriquez to purchase Scottsdale Lotus. Another $750,000 from Manriquez went to purchase Exotic Auto Sales and Leasing LLC in 2002.
Jodi Upton was set up as owner of Exotic Auto. Later, Exotic's dealership license listed car salesman Doug Allen as owner, though Upton still was listed as a partner until 2007.
The ruse was illegal. In the application for an automobile dealer's license, state law requires disclosure of partners who own more than 20 percent of a business.
At the time, Upton says now, she understood it was necessary for her to be listed as owner because Naz wasn't an American citizen.
In fact, foreigners with work visas — which Naz apparently has — can apply. People with auto-related felony convictions in the previous 10 years can't, but Naz's 1991 conviction was in September. It seems possible that he simply could have waited a few months if he had wanted to put the licenses in his name.
Instead, the real ownership was hidden. Naz's name was on bank accounts but not on state forms. This had the effect of putting one more cloaking layer between the state and Manriquez, arguably the true owner.
Whether George Upton had more than a peripheral connection to the Arizona scheme is unknown. He flew out to visit his kids a couple of times while free on bond before his 2004 conviction, sometimes attending the Barrett-Jackson car show in Scottsdale.
Manriquez and George Upton hit it off. Once, Jodi recalls, Mario let her father borrow a Lamborghini to drive while in town.
George Upton received money from Manriquez, too, albeit indirectly. When the car dealerships first ramped up, a $20,000 payment — through a car company — was sent to George.
Jodi Upton says it was only to repay a like amount that George had given them to floor vehicles in the showroom. She says she is unaware of any other payments to George.
With or without George Upton's help, Naz — and Jodi Upton, police allege — managed to hoodwink several investors and buyers in various shady deals.
One scheme involved persuading a company called Midway Motors to lease exotic cars to people who, in turn, agreed to have the vehicles sold on consignment by Southwest European. In a lawsuit Naz later settled, Midway accused Naz of selling some of these cars and failing to turn over the proceeds.
Records detailed several other problematic sales.
Valley car dealer Eric Edenholm, for example, bought a 1990 Ferrari F40 for $250,000, then asked Naz to sell it for him at Southwest European's Scottsdale showroom at 8355 East Raintree Drive.
A few months later, in the summer of 2001, a California buyer paid $290,000 for it. Before it was delivered, Dale Wilkens, president of the Scottsdale branch of First International Bank and Trust, checked out the F40 and paid about $150,000 to Southwest European for it, the idea being that the bank would invest in the vehicle and would be paid back once it was sold.
The car was shipped to California, and neither the bank nor Edenholm got paid. Reached last month, Wilkens declined to discuss the deal or his past association with Naz.
Sometimes, customers would pay for vehicles but never receive the cars or valid titles. Lawsuits against Naz's companies piled up.
Jodi Upton, who is named in some of the lawsuits, denies that she forged anything, defrauded anyone, or intentionally committed any crime.
Swizz Beatz, who had been introduced to Naz at the former Valley home of fellow rapper DMX, entered into one of these bad deals with Naz in 2001 and ended up suing in federal court. In the unlikely aftermath of the lawsuit settlement, Swizz and Naz became good friends. Swizz bragged that he bought 25 luxury cars from Naz in the following years.
Exotic Auto Sales, which had a showroom at 811 North Scottsdale Road, was the primary car business. Mario's money paid to floor the vehicles that were sold. The company generated at least $30 million in sales proceeds, police believe.
At least some customers, including famous ex-athletes Tony Womack and Penny Hardaway, apparently drove away happy.
Mario and Naz's secret partnership flourished until 2005, when it began to decay from within.
Naz and Jodi bought CBNC and its liquor license for $435,000 in the summer of 2002. Again, Naz's name was kept off the records; Upton declared herself sole owner on the license. As with car-dealer licenses, state law requires that true owners of bars and nightclubs reveal themselves in official paperwork.
The money for the purchase and another $2 million spent renovating the place came from deposits by Manriquez into Exotic Auto Sales' bank accounts, which then were transferred out for CBNC's needs.
From 2002 to 2007, at least $5 million was transferred to CBNC by Manriquez, with the money always first going through accounts held by Naz or Exotic Auto. Overall, police estimate, Manriquez moved about $17 million to the enterprises controlled by Naz.
Interesting how the editor picks and chosses the comments and wants to keep or delete.. Enough said!
I did not at anytime receive any money for this article... Really... it's comical how you people think...
.She then bought a house in Phoenix with money she had earned from the sale of a classic 1933 Ford her father had given her?? Im sure that was stolen too.. lol Are you Serious Ray?? YOUR SOURCE (JODI) IS NOT VERY CREDIBLE HERE.. I WOULD BE ASHAMED TO WRITE SUCH AN ARTICLE KNOWING THE PAST SHE AND HER FAMILY HAD.. NAZ DOESNT HAVE A PAST LIKE THAT!
again dumb fuck.. ol salty.. NAZ OBVIOUSLY DIDNT HAVE A CRIME IN MIAMI.. GET YOUR STORY RIGHT! DAMN YOU ARE WORST THAN RAY STERN WITH YOUR LIES!!
Hey dumb ass ol salty.. get your facts staright.. naz and Ara have been LEGALLY IN THE STATES FOR 45 EFFING YES YOU MORAN!! Dont you think if they were illeagal they would have been deported by now? Maybe they need to start deporting dumb asses like yourself that think they know it all!! bahahahahahaha...
honestly i thought this spread was about a man .. rupaul looking mofucker.. someone get this bitch off the cover!!!!!!!!! dam!
Ray Stern, you said her hubby, that is short for husband, is it not? Didn't you write , when "her child was 2 she decided to leave her hubby" You also wrote she was a victim, she obviously did not tell you all of the story, she sold part of her bar to young man for 100,000, got the money,and then kicked him out of the business and walked away from it and sold it again, for 1.00 and all of the hundreds of thousand of dollars of debt, she did not let it go for a fake kidney surgury, you should of talked to the young man that gave her that money. How do you sell a business, recieve the cash, and not own it? She ripped him off, and he had no recourse, and tried to get his money back, to no avail. You should have done your homework, instead of letting her scam you, like she has everyone else.
A fantasy that rich people don't always spend their money according to capitalist wetdreams? or that Stern couldn't be bothered to have learned in HIGH SCHOOL that in 1955, Armenia was a Soviet Republic and folks were getting free passes to be taken in as political refugees for pretty much any reason from those countries - especially if they provided a debriefing to the CIA when they arrived here? I would have liked to see if there were any criminal records of Naz' family in Armenia.
Your so right Tomato, but this reporter, did not do his homework at all, she lied about so many things, she never had a husband, that's public record, did he check out any of her story at all, or just write . To let her hurt so many people in this story without checking it out, is terrible,
This is a joke, I have known this woman, and a long time.Shame on the New Times not checking out all of her lies. She was NEVER been married in her life, the story talks about her violent husband, they were crack addicts, and he died in a car wreck, she then moved here and lived in her car. She is a money hungry bitter bitch. She has not seen her 10 year old child since the day school let out. She left him with his father for the whole summer as she always does, yet she talks about him that way, seriously if that were true, would you leave him there, and never even see him until school starts? She has stolen, lied, and embezeled for years, she went to the state and told all these lies with the other creep Doug, about Mario and Naz, thinking she would get something, she got nothing but arrested. While she was in jail she let her children sleep in a garage on a mattress with another crack head friend, instead of with their grandmother. She is evil, and whoever took the pictures did a great job of touch up, as she on a daily basis looks like an ugly transvestite, seriously! I hope Mario, all the stars, and everyone else she lied about sue the paper, and she ends up back in jail, it is inevitable, she is just like her criminal father. She never needed a kidney operation, that was a scam to get 49,000, and she got it, and said it went away, because she ate raw food, what a disgrace, She even admits in the article her old boyfriend when she was young bought her boobs, but she doesn't give his name, as she is afraid, because he was a drug dealer, hopefully the next one she scams, is for mental help, she surely needs it. Shame on her, and shame n the New Times!
You have no idea wat ur talking about number 1 number 2 Upton stoled from Naz and his family and doing this spread shows u wats she's all about MONEY!
who is this bitch trying to look like and portray herself to be? Marilyn Monroe.. pathetic. sounds like to me somebody got a little mad over rejection and needs some money huh?! I just dont understand how someone involved in such a "case" is now writing some story to gain attention.. or maybe not get in trouble so shes whipping up a storm about other people?! This whole article sounds like some destitute woman trying to either not get in trouble for some crime she did , or just get attention and money.
Interesting story. I kept asking myself where the dirty money was coming from..... It appears Ms. Upton has learned well from her father, however. Seems the apple didn't fall far from the tree in this case.