California Woman Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Term for Fraud and Tax Evasion
PHOENIX – On March 28, 2018, U.S. District Judge Diane J. Humetewa sentenced Farzaneh Akhavi, 59, to 84 months in prison and ordered her to pay $1.7 million in restitution. Akhavi had previously pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud, transactional money laundering, and tax evasion. Akhavi was immediately taken into custody.
Evidence showed that Akhavi used her influence to systematically defraud victims out of $1.7 million. First, she convinced victims to move from Orange County, Cal. to the Phoenix metropolitan area, using one victim’s name and Social Security number to open credit accounts and take out loans. Akhavi further used the victims’ money to buy a car and a house for herself, two properties for her daughter, items at high end clothing stores, and on travel related expenses. She convinced the victims to give her additional money by falsely promising to form a business partnership that included operating a restaurant and museum in Mesa, Ariz. She also exaggerated her political connections in an effort to convince the victims that she would advance their political careers in Arizona. Last, she committed tax evasion by failing to file taxes and account for the money she stole from the victims. In 2017, Akhavi purported to enter into a plea agreement that would have resulted in a prison sentence of less than 84 months, but the Court rejected it after discovering Akhavi had included a notation on the plea agreement, handwritten in Farsi, that translated to “innocent.” The final plea agreement in this case did not include such a notation.
“Through lies and deceit, Akhavi financially and emotionally devastated the victims,” stated First Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange. “The seven-year sentence in this case appropriately reflects the magnitude and brazen nature of her crimes.”
The investigation in this case was conducted by Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Kevin M. Rapp and Mark K. Kokanovich, Assistant United States Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR14-01066-PHX-DJH (MHB)
RELEASE NUMBER: 2018-031_ Akhavi
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az
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