Two Admit Fraud, Return to Jordan; Brothers Take Elderly Women for over $1 Million, Give Up Citizenship

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 28, 2004 | Go to article overview

Two Admit Fraud, Return to Jordan; Brothers Take Elderly Women for over $1 Million, Give Up Citizenship


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Two naturalized U.S. citizens who pleaded guilty this month in a scheme that cost an elderly California woman more than $1 million returned to their native country of Jordan after renouncing their citizenship at the U.S. consulate in Tijuana, Mexico.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Ismat Sabha, 49, and his brother, Nashat, 47, renounced their citizenship this week after a plea agreement with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. They also admitted swindling two other elderly women out of more than $2 million.

ICE agents in Los Angeles said the case was one of the most complex financial-abuse investigations ever prosecuted, noting that the brothers played a central role in a scheme costing the unidentified 85-year-old woman, who suffers from dementia, $1.3 million before the thefts were discovered.

They said while prosecutors focused on the 85-year-old victim, the men admitted to swindling the two other elderly women.

"This is one of the most compelling financial cases we've ever worked," said Loraine Brown, who heads ICE investigations in Los Angeles.

Mrs. Kice said ICE agents discovered the brothers, owners of a Los Angeles-area liquor store, used the business as a means to befriend their victims. She said they targeted wealthy elderly women who had no local relatives or were estranged from their families.

The brothers, she said, lavished attention on the victims, even proposing marriage.

Mrs. Kice said the brothers used several tactics to steal from their victims, including obtaining credit- and debit-card information when purchases were made at their store. …

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