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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 27, 2020

Ventura County Man Sentenced to Two Years in Federal Prison for Bribing L.A. County Officials and Cheating on His Taxes

          LOS ANGELES – A Ventura County man was sentenced today to 24 months in federal prison for paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to public officials in Los Angeles County in order to secure government contracts for his electrical contracting company.

          Enrique Contreras, 40, of Newbury Park, was sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who also ordered him to pay $821,366 – $600,000 to Los Angeles County and $221,366 to the United States Treasury – in restitution.

          Contreras pleaded guilty in May 2019 to one count of bribery and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. He paid his restitution amount prior to today’s sentencing hearing.

          To secure lucrative contracts from the Los Angeles County government for his Lancaster-based low-voltage electrical wiring company, Tel/Pro Voice and Data, Inc., Contreras bribed two County officials with payments totaling $600,000. Then, in an effort to conceal the bribes and lower Tel-Pro’s taxable income, Contreras falsely claimed that some of the bribe payments, along with other personal expenses, were legitimate business expenses incurred by Tel-Pro.

          As a result of those fraudulent deductions, Contreras failed to report a total of $636,454 in income from 2013 to 2017 and he owes $221,366 in unpaid taxes.

          The two County officials who accepted Contreras’s bribes were Mohammad R. Tirmazi, 51, of Alta Loma, who was an employee at Los Angeles County’s Internal Services Department, and Thomas J. Shepos, 71, of Palmdale, a public official formerly employed by the County in the Real Estate Division.

          From 2013 to 2016, Contreras made cash payments to Shepos, totaling approximately $200,000 to $300,000, in exchange for Shepos providing non-public County information to Contreras and helping Contreras secure County contracts.

          Last month, Tirmazi was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for accepting nearly $300,000 in bribes from Contreras and then failing to report the income he received from those bribes and a side business on his federal tax returns.

          Shepos pleaded guilty in November 2018 to accepting bribes and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 7.

          One of the individuals from whom Shepos admitting receiving bribes was real estate developer Arman Gabaee, 59, of Beverly Hills. Gabaee was arrested and subsequently indicted on federal bribery charges in 2018, which includes allegations that he offered to buy Shepos a $1.1 million home in Northern California’s wine country. His trial is currently scheduled for November 3 before United States District Judge George H. Wu.

          This matter was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation.

          This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ruth C. Pinkel and Lindsey Greer Dotson of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Contact: 
Ciaran McEvoy Public Information Officer United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) (213) 894-4465
Press Release Number: 
20-134
Updated July 27, 2020