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Bankrupt developer sentenced for wire fraud

A bankrupt Las Vegas developer was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison Monday in a commercial real estate scheme that authorities say cost investors roughly $1.8 million.

Jean Marc Eljwaidi, 44, who pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud last August, also was ordered to pay
$1.8 million in restitution to his victims. He has until June 3 to surrender to prison authorities.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan told Eljwaidi that he would have placed him on probation had he come up with the restitution prior to sentencing.

The sentencing was continued several times because Eljwaidi promised he was working to bring in the money from Europe.

His lawyers, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, had persuaded prosecutors not to object to probation if Eljwaidi produced the $1.8 million.

Eljwaidi apologized for his conduct Monday but asked Mahan for one more week to get the money. The judge, however, ignored his request, saying the developer had committed a “serious crime” and had hurt a lot of people.

Eljwaidi is a former executive at Triple Five Development, a company that specializes in building shopping malls.

His fraud scheme, which unfolded between November 2008 and June 2009, was investigated by the FBI. It involved a commercial project at Interstate 215 and Russell Road, according to prosecutors. The project was not related to Triple Five Development.

State prosecutors dropped criminal charges against Eljwaidi in 2010 after he paid more than $300,000 in restitution in a similar scheme. Investigators accused Eljwaidi of failing to follow through with high-interest payments he offered for investments in his projects.

In the scheme investigated by the FBI, Eljwaidi knew the development could not be completed but still enticed people into investing, federal prosecutors alleged.

Eljwaidi used the money to maintain his affluent lifestyle and keep the property from foreclosure, prosecutors alleged.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

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