Ti Amo, Baci, Meridian restaurateur pleads guilty to fraud

By Linda Bentley | April 15, 2009

Soylular hand-keyed stolen credit card numbers into point of sale terminals

SANTA ANA, CALIF. – Reha Soylular, who used to own Ti Amo Restaurant in Cave Creek with his former wife Tara Lynn Ryan, prior to opening Baci Restaurant, with Kelly Toolis, his girlfriend, pled guilty to fraud and could be facing up to ten years in prison, a three-year period of supervised release, restitution and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain resulting from his offense, whichever is greater.

In February, Soylular signed a plea agreement in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, pleading guilty to one count of fraud, in violation of Title 18 USC Section 1029 (a) (2), for “knowingly and with intent to defraud traffics in or uses one or more unauthorized access devices during any one-year period, and by such conduct obtains anything of value aggregating $1,000 or more during that period.”

Ti AmoAccording to the statement of facts outlined in the agreement, from 2002 until September 2004, Soylular perpetuated an identity fraud scheme by obtaining real persons’ names and social security numbers, without their knowledge and consent. He then used those identities, with the intent to defraud, to open merchant teller accounts with Nova Information Systems, Heartland Payment Systems, First Data Merchant Services plus several others for purported restaurants located in Orange County, Calif.

Once the applications were processed, Soylular received point of sale terminals (credit card terminals) associated with each of the merchant teller accounts.

Soylular hand-keyed stolen credit card numbers into the terminals for nonexistent sales and money was then taken from the credit card holders and deposited into accounts held by Soylular and his co-conspirator Zeki Delgir.

The plea agreement stated Soylular opened a merchant teller account with Nova Information Systems in the name of “J.B.” and J.B’s social security number for “Harbour Restaurant” in Orange County and, from late September 2003 through mid October 2003, he hand-keyed multiple credit cards into the terminal without the card holders’ consent, causing over $1,000 in loss.

The money, taken from the credit card holders through the merchant processing terminal, was deposited into Soylular’s Washington Mutual account.

Because the credit cards were hand-keyed in California and processed in Tennessee, Soylular’s conduct also affected “interstate commerce.”

In the section outlining the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) obligations under the agreement, it stated, except for criminal tax violations, including conspiracy to commit such violations, the USAO would not further prosecute Soylular for violations of access device fraud arising out of the items confiscated by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in May 2004 from the Shops at Anthem.

However, it was made clear to Soylular that the USAO is free to prosecute him for any other unlawful past conduct or any unlawful conduct that occurs after the date of the plea agreement.

The USAO also said it would recommend Soylular be sentenced at the low end of the applicable sentencing guidelines and would bring to the court’s attention the nature and extent of his cooperation, if any.

In turn, Soylular agreed not to commit any crime, to respond truthfully and completely to all questions asked, attend all proceedings, and voluntarily produce all documents, records or other tangible evidence relating to matters about which the USAO inquires.

He also acknowledged his requirement to pay full restitution to the victims, while agreeing not to seek discharge of any restitution obligations in bankruptcy proceedings.

Out on $5,000 bond, Soylular was required to surrender his passport, issued by the Republic of Turkey in May 2004 and which expired on Nov. 24, 2004.

In mid-October 2006, Sonoran News reported an incident involving a Rancho Mañana couple who filed a report with MCSO after noting an erroneous charge on their credit card statement after dining at Ti Amo.

After dining at Ti Amo on Sept. 30, 2006 they paid their check with a credit card. When their credit card statement arrived a couple weeks later, it included not only the $33 charge for their meal, but a second charge from Ti Amo in the amount of $2,049.

Last week, former patrons of Baci, which was located in the Tuscani Pointe commercial center at the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Carefree Highway, returned looking for the proprietors, only to find the suite empty.

They were seeking the owners because their credit card statements reflected thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges by Baci.

When Kelly Toolis, Baci’s owner of record and lessee, failed to pay Baci’s rent, Rob Eaton, owner of the Tuscani Pointe center, locked the doors.

However, Reha Soylular was somehow able to convince MCSO deputies he was entitled to reenter the premises.

Soylular, who was not named on the lease, then forced entry in the middle of the night, removing all equipment and furnishings.

According to Eaton, Soylular not only removed the furniture and equipment, he removed the toilet seats and partitions from the bathrooms.

When Soylular and Ryan opened Ti Amo in Cave Creek, they used assets that were hidden from creditors during their bankruptcy proceedings in California, shortly before moving to Arizona.

The equipment and furnishings were apparently moved to Meridian Restaurant in Anthem at the northeast corner of Daisy Mountain Road and Gavilan Peak Parkway.

When Soylular fled Ti Amo with his equipment and furnishings to open Baci with Toolis, he also left Ryan holding the bag for over $100,000 in judgments against Tara Lynn, Inc., as he used a variety of false names on their corporation commission filings.

It’s not clear whether or not Toolis, who is now saddled with judgments from Baci, has abandoned Soylular, perhaps in anticipation of his going to prison or for other reasons.

In any event, she’s since moved to Cave Creek into the Estado de Cholla subdivision at 48th Street and Carefree Highway, started up KRT, Inc. as co-director with Matt Barker on March 19, and, according to documents filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission, they intend to engage in the business of restaurant, food, sales, service and catering