Crime Ring Spanned Years, Involved Local Nightclubs and Exotic Auto Dealerships, Cops Say

Categories: Crime Blotter

Three people arrested yesterday have been accused of bilking a bank out of $750,000 and running a network of shady businesses with the infusion of millions of dollars of capital from Mexico.

The crimes spanned the last decade, police say, and included businesses that would be familiar to many readers, including:

* CBNC, the Scottsdale nightclub at McDowell and Scottsdale roads, which closed in 2007.


* Scorch Club at Desert Ridge. Problems with code violations targeted
by authorities in 2008, as detailed in an Arizona Republic article at
the time, apparently led to the arrests.

conspiracy suspects 1.jpg
Images: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Katie Marie Peters, Nazreth Derboghossian and Mario de la Fuente Mix



*Exotic Auto Sales and Leasing, and Scottsdale Lotus, both in Scottsdale. Eric Edenholm, the current owner of Scottsdale Lotus, tells New Times that one of the suspects owned the company for about four months in 2001.

The former owner, Nazreth Derboghossian, 50, of Phoenix, is now accused of 102 felony counts, including conspiracy, fraudulent schemes, assisting in a criminal syndicate, theft by extortion, and other crimes,  according to court documents.

Katie Marie Peters, 28, of Glendale, is potentially on the hook for 21 felony counts related to the alleged schemes, such as conspiracy, money-laundering, forgery, and fraud, and Mario de la Fuente Mix, of Nogales, Mexico, is accused of 13 similar felony counts.

The court records also name a fourth defendant, Jodi Upton, who apparently hasn't yet been apprehended or charged.

** Update -- See our 2012 in-depth article on this case, "Fast Cars and Rap Stars..."
**

Derboghossian's in the United States on a work visa, but court records don't say where he's from.

According to the aforementioned Repub article, Phoenix officials became suspicious of the Scorch Bar when it requested a special permit for a Super Bowl party in late 2007. Authorities scrutinized the liquor license and found that:

...the license applicant, Katie Peters, had no prior experience managing or controlling an establishment with a liquor license and has not attended a required training course.

In a search of Arizona Corporation Commission records, police also found a second company that claimed to own Scorch Bar.

The agent for the second company is named Bassam Nahas, and a police background check found he had a criminal history in drug trafficking.

Police now allege the bar was funded in part by millions of dollars funneled from Mexico.

The group's scams appear to have begun in May 2001, court records state. While owners of Scottsdale Lotus, the suspects took out $750,000 in loans to buy vehicles later sold. The loans weren't paid back, police allege.

Profits were mixed with an unspecified amount of income wired to the United States from two unnamed Mexican nationals.

"That money was used to purchase and operate a second car dealership, Exotic Auto Sales and Leasing, where the financial ownership and directing control was again concealed from the state through false filings," records state. "While operating as Exotic Auto ... defendants funneled approximately $16 million from Mexico into the bank account."

The suspects then allegedly used the funds to run CBNC and Scorch Bar. "Additional undisclosed financial investors were brought in as partners," records state.

scorch bar planet 99 shot.jpg
Image: Planet99.com

Heck, we even gave Club CBNC the "Best Club for Hip-Hop" award in 2005. Here's an excerpt:

50 Cent did his two-step on the bar. Britney mingled with the regular folks on the dance floor. LL Cool J sat in the exclusive "Owner's Booth" and signed autographs for fans. And such hip-hop/R&B royalty as Eve, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Beyoncé, and Alicia Keys have all gotten their groove on here. This is why CBNC is legendary in the Valley, because the club brings in the big names, due in no small part to owner Jodi Upton. Through her luxury car dealership, Scottsdale's Exotic Auto Sales, and her friendship with rap producer Swizz Beatz, godfather of one of her sons, she knows everyone worth knowing in hip-hop.


The defendants later opened RPM Ultra Club and Lounge at 2040 North Scottsdale Road. The liquor license for that club, as with the others, was acquired with money laundered through the car dealership, "and ownership was again concealed through false filings."

Authorities claim their case is based in part on self-incriminating statements made by all three suspects.

This is just the latest legal problem for Derboghossian, who was accused of grand-theft auto in 1991 after a $150,000 Ferrari Testerossa somehow ended up at a sports-car dealership he owned in Florida. The old Miami Herald article says Derboghossian, then 31, was one of the owners of Euromotorcars in Fort Lauderdale when:

...a LoJack auto- theft homing device led officers to Derboghossian's garage, police said.

They said they found the stolen sports car on a lift inside the dealership.

Police Sgt. David Ecklund said Derboghossian told detectives that a customer had dropped off the car, but said he didn't know the man's last name or how to get in touch with him.

Court records state that Derboghossian is a fugitive from a charge of fraud in Virginia and vehicle theft in Florida. He was picked up yesterday at his home at 18212 North 19th Street in Phoenix. Cops found Peters at her Glendale home. Police caught Mix at a home in Nogales, Arizona.

Records from the Arizona Corporation Commission show that Jodi Upton was the statutory agent for Exotic Auto Sales and Leasing, LLC, and that Douglas Allen of Phoenix was the company's principal member. Allen also shows up in a corporate listing published in the Arizona Republic in 2007 for Club RPM LLC. We left a message for Allen at Exotic Auto but haven't heard back yet.

It seems like there's more to this story, such as where those million of dollars from Mexico came from originally. When we find out, you'll be the first to know.

UPDATE 6:15 PM -- Just found an old Arizona Republic article posted online that describes Derboghossian and Upton as a couple and describes their "business acumen." Here's a sample:

The couple's auto dealership, specializing in Lamborghinis, Ferraris and custom Mercedes-Benzes, also has built up an impressive list of customers, including Mike Bibby, Penny Hardaway, Jake Plummer, Tony Womack and Simeon Rice.

But one customer in particular has helped Upton and Derboghossian take their business ventures into elite territory. That would be Swizz Beatz, noted hip-hop producer, songwriter and deejay.

Swizz Beatz said he visited Arizona a few years ago to produce tracks for rapper DMX, ended up liking it here and met Upton and Derboghossian when he bought a Lamborghini from them.

Since then, he has bought or traded 25 cars through the dealership. He is godfather to the couple's 8-month-old son, Nubar. And he has brought many of his friends and associates from the music business into the nightclub.

The article also describes "Naz's" rise in the exotic automobile world starting in Florida, and Upton's humble beginnings:

"Seven years ago, I was homeless, pregnant and living in a battered women's shelter," she said.

Upton packed up her belongings four years ago and left Massachusetts with her then 2-year-old son and ended up in the Valley because her girlfriend's brother lived here. She got a job in the front office of an auto repair shop.

Derboghossian, meanwhile, had grown up around cars. His Armenian father introduced him to vintage Ferraris and racing cars, letting young Naz fix them at age 10. It became his passion. By the time he was 25, he had left south Florida for Virginia and gotten his first high-profile customer, kickboxing champion Rick Rufus. Rufus asked Derboghossian to manage him as a boxer. Though he knew little about being a boxing manager, he said yes.

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4 comments
HAPPY
HAPPY

This message is for all the haters that didnt believe and have faith in Nazreth Derboghossian..Especially.. JackShallack2, Stutz, Secrets and Cheech and every hater out there that spoke so bad about this innocent man!! Merry effing Xmas.. would love to hear from you assholes.. Its not over till the fat lady sings and she is preparing for the BIG SONG!! LMFAO!!! read it weep assholes... peeps like you are a disgrace to our society and Thank the heavens you dont work for the judicial system!!

Acccording to court records, de la Fuente Manriquez loaned an estimated $16 million to businessman Nazreth Derboghossian, owner of Executive Auto Sales and Motor Cars of Scottsdale. Some of the money allegedly was used to finance the Coyote Bay Night Club, Scorch Bar and other liquor establishments, records say. Much of the criminal case hinged on the fact that neither of the de la Fuentes is named on ownership applications for licenses to sell liquor and vehicles.

Mike
Mike

I have to agree with all the good comments that are posted for NAZ!!! I have known this man ever since he lived in Florida and did plenty of car deals with him. even after he moved we still stayed in touch and did deals in the millions!! NOT once was I scammed or even thought twice about him being dishonest with me.. Not in a million years would I believe any of the negative comments here.. Sorry JACKASS but your comments have not convinced me DIFFERENTLY!!!! Your a hater and its very obvious here.. Hang in there ole Buddy.. I will round up all our friends to put this Jackass in his place!!!

jacks worst nightmare
jacks worst nightmare

To JackShallack2.. My favorite person on here.. Your balls and head still intact.. bahahahahabahahahahabahahaha!!! You are obviously a hater of Naz.. WHICH IS FINE IF THATS HOW YOU FEEL!!! Thank the Good Lord above that Naz has more friends then enemies like yourself.. Also if you knew NAZ and his brother so well you would think that you would know how to spell his brothers name.. lmfao!!! MAY YOU BURN IN HELL EACH TIME YOU BREATH NAZ'S NAME IN A LIE!! NO ONE KNOWS HIM LIKE I DO AND I FOR SURE KNOW THAT HE IS A WONDERFUL MAN WITHA GENUINE HEART OF GOLD.. HE NEVER HAD BAD INTENTIONS WITH HIS BUSINESS DEALINGS YOU FU..ING MORON!!! Your story above is not one bit convincing to the public.. good try though.. if HE IS THE FUGITIVE you AND only YOU claim he is proof it dickhead!!You must be a freind of Jodi's because you apparently have the same story.. SWEEEEEET... 2 peas ina pod!! God Bless you NAZ.. God curse the haters out there and a special curse to JACKSHALLACK!! GET a life asshole.. spend your energy in this short life you have on good things for yourself or others.. too much energy wasted on your LIES about NAZ!! I will keep posting good things about the man to defend him.. Does it bother you that he has a fan club all over the country??? Hope it burns you alive on the inside cause HE DOES!!!! One fool like you and Jodi is not going to convince us otherwise.. Now go on your merry way and try to post facts up and not ASSumptions ASSwipe!! LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR REPLY.. Which i know you will post very soon cause you are a NO LIFE piece of shit that has nothing better to focus on but your role model NAZ!!! He has more class inm one of his pubic hairs than you have in your whole body!! NO EAT IT!!

JackShallack2
JackShallack2

For all the posts that are defending NAZ your all crazy and you have been convinced that hes nice but in fact youve been fooled, this his game! Both Naz and his dummber then a box of rocks Aurra were out for them selfs from day one. They were both in business ventures that were out to defraud ligitmate people. He fucked over people he called "family", yes its true, I KNOW this for a fact....wheres the Fararrie that he sold and then had to lie about it later??? hmmWHRE??? I dont know why the poster here acting as his daughter and son are saying hes ligit....Sure your his kids and you dont really know becuase your NOT supposed to know that he is a fucken crook. There were pleanty of dealings where NAZ didnt care about how much money he wanted to spend on things for the clubs but when it came to his personal stuff with his own money he was all concerned about price. He'd spend hundereds of dollars from the clubs money on products that shouldnt have never coast as much as they did. Not only that but when the club was closed he sold some of the clubs property that he had no legal right to sell keeping thousands of dollars for himself. Stealing from the property owners and getting an innocent business owner cought up in a crime he didnt even know he was commiting....You tell me this guy NAZ is a good guy when hes intentionally causing other peoples lifes to have problems they should have never had in the 1st place.....ask your self this question if you think NAZ is such an awesome man.....Why is it that Jodie was the "owner " of Scorch then when Naz and Jodie broke up his new fience Katie was to be the owner....Why the fuck do you suppose NAZ didnt have his name on any of the papers???? HMMM lets see because he a damn fugitive thats why..... If he is so fucken innocent then why is he a fugitive from Florida? How could you possibly have a customers car and NOT know his name or a way to contact the person? YOU CANT that shit doesnt happen.Why do you think Aurra was trying to buy a Maco shop...so that they can chop shop cars thats why.....Hes a fucken theif...CBNC and scorch were working clubs with fucked up backgrounds...and the scorch remodel that you say was done by the previous owner is bullshit....NAZ Oked 2 remodels of the place without any city permits. it was the 2nd remodel that in fact was under way when they got busted....They did a little too much too fast and destroyed the place when I got a chance to see it. They ripped out a bunch of shit they had no busienss touching in the 1st place. RPM Ultra Club and Lounge was never even opened..they could never get through the red tape, Why? why do you think.....The city sees the same names pop up again and thats when they need to start an investigation. You can only fuck around for so long before it all comes to en end...10 years though is a long tiem and he should have quit while he was ahead...but he got GREEDY.....Thats how nice a guy NAZ is....Hes a fucken creep and Im sure by now hes gotten comfortable in his little 4 x 4 cell with his buddy bubba ha ha ha stupid fuck.....I wounder if he is still waring his diamond cross??? I doubt it, he problably stole that too problably had to give it to some other inmate for protection lol.....

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