The legal and financial troubles for the owner of downtown Oklahoma City's First National Center now include a six-count indictment charging him with theft by false pretenses and embezzlement in connection with a senior condominium property.
M. Aaron Yashouafar heads up two partnerships that bought the First National Center in 2006 for $21 million with promises of restoring it to Class A status. Instead, the property is in bankruptcy and its largest tenant, Devon Energy, has filed suit alleging Yashouafar has failed to maintain the building's elevators. The judge in the bankruptcy case, Niles Jackson, ruled Monday in favor of Devon Energy's request to arrange for inspections of the elevators.
That ruling is overshadowed, however, by the announcement by Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto that a Clark County grand jury on Dec. 16 returned a six-count indictment against Yashouafar for the alleged defrauding of $1 million from the Paradise Spa Home Owners Association.
“This type of crime is particularly jarring when you realize that older victims, many of whom were living on fixed incomes in Paradise Spa, were forced to find and pay for alternative living quarters when they were still obligated to make mortgage payments on their burned condo units, while waiting for repairs that would never be made,” Masto said in a news release.
Yashouafar, 50, Beverly Hills, Calif., was not available for comment on Tuesday. The indictment alleges the following: Yashouafar, who served as the treasurer of the Paradise Spa board of directors, received insurance checks for two fires which occurred on Sept. 18, 2009, and Jan. 15, 2010.
In his capacity as treasurer of the Homeowners Association he was provided two checks, one for more than $400,000 and the other check for more than $430,000, issued by the Civil Service Employees Insurance Group, for property damage to two separate buildings caused by fires, according to the indictment. The insurance checks were issued for repairs.
The jury determined that rather than repair the buildings, Yashouafar deposited the checks in an out-of-state bank account that he controlled. According to several Nevada news organizations, condo owners, many of them seniors, were forced to find other living arrangements, while still making mortgage payments on their uninhabitable units.