A Hawthorne man who allegedly intentionally drove his family off a wharf into water at the Port of Los Angeles, in an attempt to collect money on insurance policies he had taken out on their lives, has been found guilty of 14 felonies.
According to a press release from the US Justice Department, 45-year-old Ali F. Elmezayen, was found guilty of four counts of wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and five counts of money laundering.
United States Attorney Nick Hanna said that Elmezayen’s motivations behind his crimes were primarily financial.
“Dissatisfied with his financial and family situation, Mr. Elmezayen fraudulently purchased millions of dollars in insurance on his common-law wife and disabled young sons, and then drove them off a pier in order to cash in,” he said.
“These two boys deserved a loving father; instead they got a man who put his greed and self-interest above their lives,” he added.
Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office said in a statement, “A jury found that Mr. Elmezayen intentionally put his children in a deadly situation from which they could not escape.”
“Today’s verdict delivers justice and gives a voice to the young victims who deserved to be protected by their father, but instead were murdered so he could profit from their deaths,” he added.
According to evidence presented at the trial, Elmezayen bought $7 million worth of life insurance from eight different insurance companies. He paid over $6,000 per year in premiums on the policies.
Following the purchasing of the polices, Elmezayen is said to have called the insurance companies on a number of occasions pretending to be his wife in an attempt to confirm the policies were active.
He is also said to have called the insurance companies to confirm that claims would not be investigated if they occurred two years after the polices had been purchased.
On April 19, 2015, 12 days after the two-year contestability period had passed, authorities say Elmezayen drove a car, with his two autistic sons and wife inside, off a wharf into water in an attempt to murder them.
Elmezayen swam out the open driver’s side window to safety, while his wife—who allegedly doesn’t know how to swim—managed to escape with the help of a nearby fisherman who threw her a flotation device. The two boys however, ages 8 & 13, drowned inside the car.
Following the incident, Elmezayen collected over $260,000 in insurance proceeds but was later arrested by FBI in November 2018 on a criminal complaint and has been in custody ever since.
At trial, Prosecutors argued that Elmezayen was an abusive husband who “hatched a plan” in an attempt to fix all of his financial problems.
“What he did on April 9 wasn’t an accident,” prosecutors said. “It was a long time coming.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 30 and Elmezayen could face up to 212 years in federal prison.