A federal judge sentenced Ali F. Elmezayen, 45, to 212 years in federal prison for intentionally driving his ex-wife and two disabled sons off a wharf at the Port of Los Angeles into the ocean – drowning the boys who were trapped in the car – to collect on accidental death insurance policies he had taken out on their lives. Elmezayen also has to pay $261,751 in restitution to the insurance companies that he defrauded. During a nine-day trial in October 2019, a federal jury found Elmezayen guilty of four counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and five counts of money laundering.
From July 2012 to March 2013, Elmezayen bought from eight different insurance companies more than $3 million of life and accidental death insurance policies on himself and his family. Elmezayen paid premiums of more than $6,000 per year for these policies – even though he reported income of less than $30,000 per year on his tax returns. Elmezayen began buying the insurance policies the same year he exited a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. After buying the policies, Elmezayen repeatedly called the insurance companies – sometimes pretending to be his ex-wife in whose name he had obtained some of the policies – to verify that the policies were active and that they would pay benefits if his ex-wife died in an accident. Elmezayen also called at least two of the insurance companies to confirm they would not investigate claims made two years after the policies were purchased. These telephone calls were recorded and were played for the jury.
On April 9, 2015, 12 days after the two-year contestability period on the last of his insurance policies expired, Elmezayen drove a car with his ex-wife and two youngest children off a wharf at the Port of Los Angeles. The site of the crash was a loading dock and worksite for commercial fishermen.
Elmezayen swam out the open driver’s side window of the car. Elmezayen’s ex-wife, who did not know how to swim, escaped the vehicle and survived when a nearby fisherman threw her a flotation device. Two of the couple’s three sons, who were 8 and 13 and who were both severely autistic, were strapped into the car and drowned. The couple’s third son was away at camp at the time and was not in the car at the time his father drove it into the water.
Elmezayen then collected more than $260,000 in insurance proceeds on the accidental death insurance policies he had taken out on the children’s lives. He used part of the insurance proceeds to buy a boat and real estate in Egypt.
Not only did he pose as his ex-wife in communications with the insurance companies without her knowledge, after the crash, Elmezayen lied to law enforcement officers and insurance companies. He also lied in civil lawsuits he filed about the crash – about the extent of the insurance he had purchased on his family, and about whether he had insured his disabled children’s lives. He also tried to get witnesses to lie to law enforcement and say he donated the insurance proceeds to charity.