Former Cave Creek restaurateur sentenced to seven months in prison

By Linda Bentley | December 9, 2009
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Federal judge orders $17, 327 in restitution to victims

SANTA ANA, Calif. – On Nov. 30, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna, for the Central District of California, sentenced former restaurateur Reha Soylular to serve seven months in prison.

Soylular, once the proprietor of Ti Amo Restaurant in Cave Creek, Baci in Desert Hills and, most recently, Meridian in Anthem, pled guilty in April to use of an unauthorized access device to obtain goods worth $1,000 or more during a one-year period, and did so with intent to defraud.

The statement of facts supporting his guilty plea revealed Soylular, beginning in 2002 until September 2004, perpetuated an identity fraud scheme, whereas he obtained real persons’ names and social security numbers without their knowledge and consent.

Soylular then used that information, with the intent to defraud, to apply for merchant teller accounts in the victims’ names from a variety of credit card processing companies for purported restaurants located in Orange County, Calif.

Once the applications were processed, Soylular received point-of-sale credit card processing terminals for those merchant teller accounts.

Soylular hand-keyed stolen credit card numbers into the terminals for fictitious sales without the permission of the credit card holders. Money was then taken from the credit card holders and deposited to accounts held by Soylular and his co-conspirator Zeki Delgir.

As part of his plea deal, Soylular agreed to cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), U.S. Secret Service and with any other federal, state or local law enforcement agency.

The USAO agreed, in exchange, with the exception of criminal tax violations, it would not further prosecute the defendant for violations of access device fraud arising out of the items confiscated by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in May 2004 at The Shops at Anthem.
However, the USAO also made it clear to Soylular it would be free to prosecute him for any other unlawful past conduct or any unlawful conduct that occurs after the date of the plea agreement.

Sentencing was continued from July to November as federal authorities continued their investigation of Delgir and possibly others.

Soylular was further ordered to pay a special assessment of $100 and restitution in the amount of $17,327, divided as set forth in a separate victim list, which is to remain confidential to protect privacy interests of the victims.

The court waived all fines, citing the defendant does not have the ability to pay a fine in addition to restitution.

Selna also ordered Soylular to be placed on supervised release for a term of three years upon his release from prison, with his first three months on home detention with a monitoring device, for which Soylular will be required to pay up to $12 per day.

Other terms of probation require Soylular, who is a Turkish citizen, to comply with immigration rules and regulations, and if deported, either voluntarily or involuntarily, not reenter the United States illegally; not obtain or posses any driver’s license, Social Security number, birth certificate, passport or any other form of identification in any name other than his true legal name or names without prior written approval of the probation officer; apply monies received from income tax refunds greater than $500, lottery winnings, inheritance, judgments and any anticipated or unexpected financial gains to the outstanding court-ordered financial obligation; and cooperate in providing a DNA sample.

Special conditions for probation upon his release from prison prohibit Soylular from selling, giving away or otherwise conveying any assets with a fair market value in excess of $500 without approval of the probation officer until all his financial obligations imposed by the court have been satisfied in full.

Soylular was ordered to surrender himself to the institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons on or before 12 noon, Jan. 29, 2010 to begin serving his sentence or, in absence of such designation, to the U.S. Marshal.