Naz Derboghossian, a key player in an alleged "crime ring" that owned Valley nightclubs and exotic car dealerships, has been sentenced to probation and a year in jail.
We covered this complex and fascinating case in a July 12 feature article. Derboghossian, a smooth-talking car expert and scamster who ran the Coyote Bay Night Club (CBNC) in Scottsdale and is friends with rap star Swizz Beatz, was one of several interesting characters in the case, as our previous story detailed. The millions of dollars he invested in the businesses belonged to a well-known Mexican businessman (who's also a U.S. citizen with homes in Arizona) named Mario de la Fuente Manriquez.
Cops and state prosecutors claim Manriquez used Naz to run a sophisticated money-laundering operation with the businesses. However, the state failed to prove that theory and charges were dropped against him and his son a few months after a series of raids in January of 2010.
Manriquez insists that he was a victim in the case. He says he's only guilty of loaning Derboghossian about $17 million from 2000 to 2008, and not taking more care to make sure the money wasn't squandered. Now he's suing Phoenix police and the state Attorney General's office for defamation.
Derboghossian ran the businesses with pals including his then-girlfriend, Jodi Upton, the daughter of a sophisticated Cape Cod crook. Swizz Beatz is their son's godfather.
Upton and other lower-level defendants in the scheme ended up with probation, arguing that they didn't realize they were doing anything wrong when they portrayed themselves in state paperwork as the owners of the businesses.
Derboghossian will get credit for the weeks he served in jail following his 2010 arrest. At his September 26 sentencing hearing, he also got three years' probation and was ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution to various fraud victims in the case.
Victims include Carol Boyce, who put a chunk of her life savings into CBNC to become a partner. In one of the many odd facts about the case, Boyce and her daughter brought $50,000 to a gas station to make the deal with Derboghossian's brother, Ara. The Boyces were later locked out of the business and lost their investment -- a total of about $130,000, which Naz has now been ordered to pay.
Here's a list of the victims and amounts owed, from court filings:
Carol Boyce (Individual) $130,000.00 Bassam Nahas (Individual) $120,000.00 N Ferentello (Individual) $245,000.00 Ron Jagolta (Individual) $33,000.00 Eric Edenholm (Individual) $250,000.00 First International Bank & Trust, Attn: Dale Wilkins (Business) $552,428.22 Airpark Motors Auto Network, Attn: Joe Seaverns (Business) $100,000.00
As we mentioned in our feature article, Manriquez, the wealthy businessman who was once CEO of Omnicable, northern Mexico's biggest cable company before it was sold two years ago, may not be off the hook. In a letter to Manriquez's lawyer, state prosecutor Ted Campagnolo said that if police ever found Naz's personal bookkeeper, Nydia Zulema Morales, new evidence might be uncovered that lead to new charges against Manriquez.
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Morales was found and arrested last month under a 2010 warrant in the case. Her lawyer, Alex Navidad, says she never knew a warrant had been issued for her. Navidad didn't want to make any statements about his client's arrest and involvement in this case, other than to say that the state AG's office sent him a whopping 90 CDs full of records.
"It's a very documents-intensive case," he says.
That's for sure. Prosecutors had to sift through many years of complex business records. They're probably not looking forward to re-hashing this one just for the sake of Morales, unless she's the bounty of info they expect.
Naturally, we'll let you know what happens.