The owners of a popular exotic auto dealership in Phoenix that was used by producer Swizz Beatz and other celebrities to purchase exotics cars, has been accused of massive fraud and using illicit money from Mexico to fund their businesses.
Swizz Beatz, who is the godfather to Nazreth Derboghossian and Jodi Upton’s 8-month old son, has bought or traded at least 25 cars through Exotic Auto and Leasing and Scottsdale Lotus.
In addition to Swizz Beatz, the dealerships counted Penny Hardaway, Mike Bibby and others as celebrity clients and specialized in customizing Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Mercedes-Benz’s.
Derboghossian, 50, is charged with 102 felony counts, which include assisting a criminal syndicate, theft by extortion, conspiracy and a host of other offenses.
Also charged are Katie Marie Peters, 28 and the couple’s lawyer Mario del Fuente Mix. Both face multiple charges that include money laundering, forgery and fraud.
Police uncovered the massive crime ring when Phoenix officials become suspicious of the popular Scorch Bar, after scrutinizing the company’s liquor license after a 2007 Super Bowl party.
Officials uncovered that a second company claimed ownership of the bar as well and an agent for the company named Bassam Nahas, was revealed to be a convicted drug trafficker.
Police now claim the bars, which hosted parties featuring major rappers and pop singers and the dealerships, were funded in part by money funneled in from Mexico.
The group allegedly began scamming banks in May of 2001, by borrowing $750,000 in loans for vehicles which were eventually sold.
According to the Phoenix New Times, the loans were never paid back, but an unusual an infusion of cash was wired in to the company from two unnamed Mexican nationals.
The suspects then purchased Exotic Auto Sales and Leasing, which allegedly funneled another $16 million dollars in from Mexico, which was then used to purchase Club CBNC.
The club, which was named “Best Club for Hip-Hop” in 2005 by The New Times, hosted parties for rappers and artists like LL Cool J., 50 Cent, Britney Spears, Busta Rhymes, Alicia Keys, Beyonce and others.
The person listed as owner of CBNC was Jodi Upton, a close friend of Swizz Beatz and Derboghossian’s girlfriend.
"Swizz Beatz befriended us," Upton told the Arizona Republic when CBNC originally opened. “When we bought the club, he said, 'Let's blow it up.' He tells people it's his club."
Authorities claim that Upton’s husband continued the criminal operation, by opening another Phoenix hot spot, RPM Ultra Club and Lounge, which was also bought using laundered money.
At press time, Upton is named as a fourth defendant, but hasn’t been apprehended or charged with a crime as of press time.