Bankrupt real estate mogul Ezri Namvar pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he stole $23 million from clients who paid him to safeguard proceeds from real estate sales.
Namvar, free on $300,000 bond, was indicted Sept. 21 on five counts of wire fraud in connection with the alleged misappropriation of money from clients of his company, Namco Financial Exchange Corp., in 2008.
The indictment alleged that Namvar, 59, used the money for a variety of purposes, including making interest payments to investors in a second company he owned, Namco Capital Group Inc.., which invested in commercial real estate.
Namvar raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors in Namco Capital Group and used the money to acquire high-profile holdings, including the Marriott hotel in downtown Los Angeles and the Cal Neva hotel and casino at Lake Tahoe.
Namvar's business was hit by the real estate meltdown in 2008, when angry creditors forced both of his companies into involuntary bankruptcies.
He is scheduled to return to federal court Nov. 1 for a status conference.