YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

O.C. Man in Bail Case Gets 9 Months

Ameer Yousef is under house arrest in La Habra after pleading guilty to using unlicensed agents. Kidnap count is tossed.

November 02, 2005|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

A man who faced a potential life sentence when he was accused last year of kidnapping clients for his family's bail bond company is serving nine months of house arrest after pleading guilty to four lesser charges.

Ameer Yousef, 20, pleaded guilty to four felony counts of employing unlicensed bail agents and also received three years' probation, said defense attorney John Barnett. When Yousef was arrested by a county gang task force, he was held on $1-million bail and accused of running a criminal enterprise with his father and two brothers that included drug trafficking, embezzlement, money laundering and kidnapping.

Prosecutors agreed to drop the kidnapping charge in exchange for Yousef's guilty plea and a requirement that he pay $40,000 in fines and court costs, said Orange County Assistant Dist. Atty. Michael Pear. Pear said proving the kidnapping charge at trial would have been difficult.

"[The plea agreement involved] charges that could be proven. We also considered the fact that Yousef had no prior record and was 19 years old at the time of the offenses," said Pear. Yousef was sentenced in August.

"The plea agreement accurately reflects his participation in the case, which was minor," Barnett said. "These violations were technical violations, and nobody was injured by my client's actions. He'll be eligible for a reduction in the conviction to a misdemeanor when he completes probation."

The Yousefs, who live in La Habra, own American Liberty Bail Bonds in Whittier. Investigators alleged in court documents that the family diverted $140 million to the Middle East and had ties to terrorists, although they were never charged.

Ameer Yousef's brother, Monther Yousef, 19, pleaded guilty in May to two misdemeanor counts of working as an unlicensed bail agent and was sentenced to three years' probation, said defense attorney Mike Cabori. Monther Yousef had been charged with several felony counts and bail set at $750,000 when he was arrested.

"He was only guilty of hyper-technical violations by posting bail and filing paperwork for clients of the family business," said Cabori.

A third brother, Tarek Yousef, 21, and father, Adnan "Dan" Yousef, 56, are free on bail and awaiting trial, along with six American Liberty employees. Pretrial hearings for the defendants are scheduled for January.

Los Angeles Times Articles