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Press Release

Four-Time Congressional Candidate Charged in Long-Running Misuse of Campaign Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – Federal prosecutors today unsealed a grand jury indictment that accuses a Torrance man who was a candidate for a Los Angeles County congressional seat in four federal elections with misusing campaign funds, including funneling tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations back to himself through his friends and family. 

Omar Navarro, 34, is charged in a 43-count grand jury indictment. He is currently in state custody on unrelated charges, but he is expected to be turned over soon to federal authorities.

As part of the case against Navarro, FBI agents today arrested Dora Asghari, 59, of Torrance, who is Navarro’s mother, and Zacharias Diamantides-Abel, 34, of Long Beach, who is a friend of Navarro, both of whom are accused of conspiring with Navarro to convert campaign donations to personal use.

Navarro unsuccessfully campaigned in the four most recent election cycles to represent south Los Angeles County residents in California’s 43rd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.

The indictment returned on September 14 and unsealed today alleges that Navarro, from September 2017 through July 2020, illegally funneled campaign cash to himself. The indictment outlines a scheme in which Navarro allegedly made payments from his campaign to various individuals – including Asghari and Abel – and then directed the transfer of cash back to himself for personal use.

Navarro also allegedly used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, including trips to Las Vegas and wine country, as well as two criminal defense attorneys. According to the indictment, Navarro later falsely reported these expenditures as campaign expenses to the Federal Election Commission.

Asghari and Abel concealed Navarro’s misdirection of campaign funds by frequently cashing the checks rather than depositing them into their personal bank accounts. If they deposited the check, they often withdrew the funds shortly thereafter to share with Navarro.

In total, from December 2017 to June 2020, Abel and Asghari allegedly received $49,260 and $58,625, respectively, from Navarro’s campaign, according to checks he wrote or caused to be written to them. According to the indictment, Asghari also created a shell company to facilitate her receipt of these campaign payments and transfers back to Navarro and his own shell company.

According to the indictment, from January 2018 through July 1, 2020, Navarro deposited over $100,000 in cash into his personal accounts, even though he had no other source of income aside from the campaign funds, and he frequently made deposits after Abel or Asghari cashed campaign checks. Navarro also formed a sham charity called the United Latino Foundation as another way to embezzle funds from his campaign for his personal use.

All three defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy. Navarro is charged with 13 counts of wire fraud, 26 counts of falsification of records, and three counts of prohibited use of campaign funds. Asghari is charged with six counts of wire fraud. Abel is charged with two counts of wire fraud.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

If convicted in this case, Navarro, Asghari and Abel would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy count and up to 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count in which they were charged. Navarro also would face up to 20 years in federal prison for each falsification of records count and up to five years in prison for each count of prohibited use of campaign contributions.

The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Frances S. Lewis and Thomas F. Rybarczyk of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section are prosecuting this case.


Thom Mrozek
Director of Media Relations
(213) 894-6947

Updated September 27, 2023

Voting and Elections
Press Release Number: 23-205