Owner of First National Center in Oklahoma City seeks to avoid jail time

A judge in Las Vegas has been presented with character references that seek to portray Aaron Yashouafar, owner of First National Center in Oklahoma City, as an honest, ethical businessman as he pleads guilty to embezzlement.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: November 13, 2012
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Holly Fathi, controller of Yashouafar's company, Milbank Realty Group, wrote pleading that incarceration will jeopardize his ongoing contributions to charitable organizations and the livelihood of his employees.

“At this time, there are a number of ongoing matters which demands daily and constant involvement of Mr. Yashouafar,” Fathi wrote. “These matters, if not handled properly, will have a devastating effect on many of the investors who have their life savings invested with Mr. Yashouafar.”

Bill O'Donnell is hoping Judge Ellsworth will ignore the character references.

As a resident of the Paradise Spa condominiums in Las Vegas, O'Donnell witnessed a series of fires that left residents homeless. The Nevada attorney general accused Yashouafar of diverting about $1 million of insurance proceeds, which led Yashouafar to enter a guilty plea for embezzlement.

In the latest court filings asking for leniency, Yashouafar's rabbi, David Shofet, noted Yashouafar is in mourning over the recent loss of his mother and is observing twice daily religious services in accordance with the Jewish faith.

O'Donnell wants Ellsworth to ponder what role Yashouafar's faith and integrity played in leaving an 84-year-old Paradise Spa resident, Iris Hokanson, without her home while he diverted the insurance proceeds for her condominium.

“I find it hypocritical he would be praying for his mother at the same time he's putting somebody else's mother out on the streets,” O'Donnell said. “Iris Hokanson to this day has not received any money.”

O'Donnell argues Yashouafar still owes more than $1 million in dues and insurance costs after recently paying $1.2 million in retribution, which has been paid to the condominium complex's receiver but has yet to be distributed to the residents.

Yashouafar did not return calls for comment about O'Donnell's complaints. O'Donnell, meanwhile, questions whether Yashouafar was sincere in his guilty plea.

“They're (friends and acquaintances) portraying this as Mr. Yashouafar being accused of this, and he admitted to it,” O'Donnell said. “It's as if they're trying to dismiss it as he's really not guilty, that he just pled so he wouldn't have this go to trial.”

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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