A real estate developer from Beverly Hills was sentenced on Dec. 15 to four years in federal prison for bribing a Los Angeles County public official in exchange for the official’s assistance in securing a $45 million county lease.
Arman Gabaee, 61, also known as Arman Gabay, of Beverly Hills, was also ordered him to pay a $1.14 million fine. Gabaee pleaded guilty on May 2 to one count of bribery. He was a co-founder and co-managing partner of the Charles Company, a Hollywood-based commercial and residential real estate development firm. Gabaee bribed Thomas J. Shepos, 72, a high-level official in Los Angeles County’s Real Estate Division involved in awarding contracts to real estate developers.
From approximately 2010 to 2017, Gabaee paid Shepos approximately $1,000 every month in exchange for county leases, preferential contract terms and non-public information. Shepos started cooperating with the FBI in December 2016.
From December 2016 until April 2017, Gabaee paid Shepos $6,000 in cash bribes, prosecutors said.
In 2016, Gabaee offered to buy Shepos a luxury home in exchange for his assistance securing a 10-year, $45 -million county lease for office space in the Hawthorne Mall, which Gabaee owned and was redeveloping. Gabaee admitted in a plea agreement to placing two offers on a Northern California home, first for $1,035,000 and later for $1,065,000, as a bribe for Shepos in exchange for the $45 million lease, prosecutors said.
Wiretap calls showed that with the county anchoring the mall, Gabaee believed he could obtain bank loans to redevelop the property, attract other tenants and ultimately increase the mall’s assessed value from $17 million to $500 million. With the county lease, Gabaee was considering selling the mall to capitalize on its increased value, wiretap calls showed. Shepos pleaded guilty in November 2018 to one count of making false statements to federal investigators and one count of submitting to a false tax return, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 19.
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