Luxury auto seller pleads not guilty

A Huntington Beach man accused of embezzling more than $3 million from customers at a luxury car business pleaded not guilty to 41 felonies Monday, authorities said.

Prosecutors allege Farhad Ebadat, 37, promised clients of his Costa Mesa business that he would sell their Rolls Royces, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other luxury cars on consignment, but instead diverted payments to a personal account.

Between 2009 and 2012, Ebadat owned and operated Costa Mesa Bellagio Motors on Placentia Avenue and sold cars worth $25,000 to $225,000 on consignment, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

If convicted, Ebadat faces a 34-year, eight-month maximum prison sentence.

The luxury vehicle buyers were defrauded, prosecutors said, because although they paid in full for the cars, they couldn't obtain legal car titles because the cars' owners were never paid.

Prosecutors allege that after an investigation into Ebadat's business practices began, Ebadat closed his business, moved from his Huntington Beach home to a Bermuda Dunes rental home in Riverside County and transferred money from his bank accounts to accounts in France and Iran.

He faces felony charges that include money laundering, grand theft by false pretenses, embezzlement by fiduciary of trust and several sentencing enhancements.

Ebadat is being held in lieu of $3-million bail, and must prove that the money he obtains to post bond is from a legal source, prosecutors said.

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