The FBI has arrested commercial real estate developer Arman Gabaee, co-founder and co-managing partner of the Hollywood-based Charles Co., on criminal charges alleging he illegally paid off a Los Angeles County government employee who negotiated leases on the county’s behalf.
Gabaee, known professionally as Arman Gabay, 57, of Beverly Hills, was arrested at his home on May 16, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. If convicted of the bribery charge, he would face up to 10 years in federal prison.
Federal prosecutors allege Gabaee paid monthly bribes to the county employee for six years. Gabaee allegedly paid the employee $1,000 or more in cash every month “in exchange for county leases, non-public information and other benefits,” prosecutors said.
He also allegedly submitted offers to buy the employee a Santa Rosa home for nearly $1.1 million in exchange for Gabaee obtaining a $45 million county lease in the Hawthorne Mall, which Gabaee was redeveloping. Gabaee allegedly wanted the county to sign a 10-year, $45 million lease at the mall on behalf of the Department of Public Social Services and other county departments, according to court documents.
The FBI’s investigation and intercepted communications showed the developer taking numerous steps to purchase the Northern California home to use as leverage to get the $45 million lease, prosecutors said. In April 2017, Gabaee allegedly placed two offers on the Santa Rosa home, the second offer for $1.065 million. Gabaee withdrew the offer within hours after FBI agents approached him and informed him they knew of the bribe arrangement, prosecutors said.
The county employee, who is not named in court documents, is cooperating with federal law enforcement. The employee negotiated leases for the county to rent office spaces from private parties and had “significant autonomy to contractually bind the county,” prosecutors said.
Real estate reporter Ciaran McEvoy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 556-8337.