Jewelry District Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

            LOS ANGELES – A precious metals trader based in the Los Angeles Jewelry District pleaded guilty today to a money laundering charge after being caught in an undercover operation where he agreed to conceal what was described to him as more than $200,000 in drug trafficking proceeds.

            Saeed Elyahouzadeh, 53, of Westwood, who owns and operates R.S.D. Trading Co., entered his guilty plea to one felony money laundering charge before United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer.

            According to a plea agreement filed in this case, between April 2015 and December 2017 Elyahouzadeh took part in four financial transactions with the intent to launder illicit drug proceeds through the use of his jewelry business. An undercover federal agent told Elyahouzadeh that the proceeds being laundered were the result of drug trafficking, according to court documents.

            For example, on April 22, 2015, Elyahouzadeh met with an undercover law enforcement agent who asked him to “clean” $18,000 that was generated through cocaine sales, the plea agreement states. Elyahouzadeh agreed to launder the $18,000 in exchange for a $1,000 fee. In the weeks that followed that meeting, Elyahouzadeh arranged for multiple checks to be deposited into a bank account provided by the undercover agent, according to court documents. On three subsequent occasions – in June 2015, November 2017 and December 2017 – Elyahouzadeh agreed to launder a total of $200,000 from the undercover agent in exchange for a total of $11,000, court papers state. Typically, Elyahouzadeh would agree to launder the money in exchange for between 5 percent and 6 percent of the given amount. In the weeks following each of those meetings with the undercover agent, Elyahouzadeh arranged for multiple checks to be deposited into the bank account that the undercover agent provided, according to his plea agreement.

            Judge Fischer is scheduled to sentence Elyahouzadeh on July 15 at which time he will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

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