Global Statistics

All countries
548,935,393
Confirmed
Updated on June 26, 2022 8:11 pm
All countries
520,723,315
Recovered
Updated on June 26, 2022 8:11 pm
All countries
6,350,765
Deaths
Updated on June 26, 2022 8:11 pm
Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Global Statistics

All countries
548,935,393
Confirmed
Updated on June 26, 2022 8:11 pm
All countries
520,723,315
Recovered
Updated on June 26, 2022 8:11 pm
All countries
6,350,765
Deaths
Updated on June 26, 2022 8:11 pm
Molderizer and Safe Shield

Businessman bought swanky McLean mansion with covid relief funds

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A McLean businessman who bilked nearly $1.6 million from federal coronavirus relief programs and spent much of the money on a mansion with its own movie theater and cigar room was sentenced Friday to two years and nine months in prison.

Foad Darakhshan, 47, admitted as part of a plea that he arranged with his girlfriend and four brothers to submit fraudulent tax documents and loan applications to the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Darakhshan personally obtained nearly $1.6 million in coronavirus relief funds, according to court documents, and used more than $621,000 to buy half of an ownership stake in a gated, 9,816-square-foot mansion in McLean now listed for sale at $4.425 million. The six-bedroom, six-and-a-half bath property is said to feature a spa, movie theater, and wine cellar and cigar room, among other amenities. Prosecutors said he also spent some disaster-relief funds at Costco and gas stations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg said in a court filing that fraud cases involving coronavirus relief funds are “rampant,” and called Darakhshan’s actions a crime of “opportunistic greed” because he did not need the money.

After being denied a raft of loan applications, all submitted the same day in May 2020 to Atlantic Union Bank, the group tried again with more meticulous fake documents submitted to PNC Bank and was successful, according to documents filed with the guilty plea. The scheme involved fake companies and nonexistent employees in some cases, and wildly inflated revenue figures in others, prosecutors said.

“They did this at a time when many legitimate businesses desperately needed that money, businesses that actually paid real employees, that actually filed tax returns and paid employee withholding taxes and benefits,” Carlberg wrote in a sentencing brief. “Such business included restaurants, movie theaters, dry cleaners, barber shops, beauty salons, fitness centers, live music venues, among many others.”

Darakhshan pleaded guilty in February to a conspiracy charge of wire fraud and bank fraud.

“What I did was wrong, and there’s no excuse,” Darakhshan said at his sentencing Friday. “I was raised better.”

His attorney, Jeffrey Zimmerman, argued in court filings that Darakhshan’s girlfriend, Haleh Farshi, “coordinated the scheme.”

“Ms. Farshi did the research and the legwork,” Zimmerman wrote in a sentencing brief. “She prepared the forms, coached others on how to discuss them, and interacted with the [Small Business Administration] and bank personnel. Contrary to the government’s assertions, there is no evidence that Foad exercised any control over her or that she exercised any control over anyone else. The text messages show, rather, that she coordinated the scheme and consulted with Foad and his brothers regarding its execution.”

Farshi’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment. She also pleaded guilty in February and has not been sentenced. Darakhshan’s four brothers also have yet to be sentenced for participating in the scheme.

Farshi admitted she used separate coronavirus relief funds she obtained fraudulently “to pay over $59,000 of previously existing personal credit card debt, to write a check to herself for $5,000, to lease an Infiniti sport utility vehicle for more than $4,000, and to fund other personal expenses,” according to documents filed with her plea.

U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady found that Darakhshan did not exercise control over the other defendants, as prosecutors had argued in seeking a longer sentence. But the judge said Darakhshan and Farshi were “the most culpable” of the group and called their efforts a “feeding frenzy.”

“I was struck by the text messages between you and Ms. Farshi, where she makes the comment about ‘free money,’ and you haven’t explained why you did this,” O’Grady said to Darakhshan from the bench.

Darakhshan, who said his family came to the United States from Iran, had requested a sentence of home confinement. Zimmerman noted he had volunteered for decades at the Air Force Civil Air Patrol.

Authorities have seized approximately $975,000 from Darakhshan, prosecutors said.

But the $621,585 he poured into the house-flipping project in McLean — which is described in its listing as a “magnificent sanctuary” with fountains, a swimming pool and a private elevator — has not been seized because Darakhshan is suing his business partner in state court over the property.

His attorney said Darakhshan intends to repay the government as soon as it sells, and asked the judge whether Darakhshan could get approval for another loan to repay the government more quickly. The judge said it was up to his probation officer to decide.



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