Dishonest Abe: Once-wealthy businessman falls to second federal probe in six years

Was ‘Abe’ Alizadeh Roseville’s king of white collar crime?

This is an extended version of a story that appears in the January 25, 2018, issue.

Former Roseville restaurateur, real estate developer and fast food mogul Abolghasseni “Abe” Alizadeh pleaded guilty to $22 million worth of bank fraud on January 12. The plea brings an end to Alizadeh’s second noted saga with federal prosecutors in a handful of years.

The Department of Justice reported the nature of Alizadeh’s latest scheme went like this: He would inflate the purchase price of properties he intended to develop when he requested bank loans. The banks, unaware of the exaggerated values, competed with each other and would sometimes loan Alizadeh far more funds than he should have gotten.

Meanwhile, Alizadeh would write down-payment checks for these properties to his co-conspirator Mary Sue Weaver, who worked for a local title company. Alizadeh would have Weaver hold the checks until after escrow closed on the properties. When it did, Weaver allegedly transferred funds from her company’s escrow trust account to Kobra Properties, funds that were then used to cover the cost of Alizadeh’s down payment and other expenses.

Among Alizadeh’s more impressive hauls came in 2005, when he obtained $22 million in loans to purchase the “Turtle Island” property near Horseshoe Bar Road in Loomis. He bought the place for less than half that—$10 million—according to the DOJ.

Another gambit had him telling the Bank of Sacramento he was paying $36 per square foot for a location where he wanted to develop a TGI Fridays. According to federal prosecutors, he only paid $21 per square foot.

In total, financial institutions ended up losing $22 million.

Before his fall, Alizadeh’s life resembled a propagandic vision of the American Dream. An Iranian immigrant, he got his start as a dishwasher at a Jack in the Box, the first franchise he purchased in 1986. Alizadeh pleaded guilty to tax fraud involving his chain of Jack in the Boxes in 2012. Three years later, he was indicted on the new bank fraud charges. He will remain free before his sentencing on March 30.