A 50-year-old man who masterminded the kidnapping of a businessman in Orange and holding him captive for two weeks in a Long Beach motel nearly a decade ago was sentenced to 21 years and four months in prison for his guilty plea today.
Nasir Kamaruddin Shamsi pleaded guilty one day before jury selection was to begin in his trial for the March 18, 2002, abduction of Sohiel Daliri for $10,000 ransom, Deputy District Attorney Aleta Bryant said.
Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg accepted the plea deal and sentenced Shamsi. Shamsi could have faced a seven years to life sentence if convicted at trial, making him eligible for a parole hearing in about seven years, but no guarantees he would ever go free, Bryant said. Now, after factoring in credit for time served in custody, Shamsi could finish his prison sentence in about 14 years, Bryant said.
"He bought himself a little peace of mind in that there's a light at the end of the tunnel,'' Bryant said. Bryant contacted Daliri in Iran, where he lives now, and said he approved of the plea bargain, Bryant said. Daliri was so upset by his ordeal that he left the United States, Bryant said.
"He actually felt safer" in Iran, Bryant said. Shamsi wanted to take responsibility for his crimes, his attorney, Jeremy Goldman said. "He felt remorseful for his actions back in 2002, and at that time he was using drugs heavily and the drug use really affected him,'' Goldman said. "He has since changed his life, but he has to pay the price of his actions.''
Shamsi also wanted the chance to be free one day and spend time with his two children and grandchildren, Goldman said. Shamsi had been free for most of the case on $250,000 bail posted in 2004, but a couple of months after he got charged in October 2009 with operating a marijuana cultivation farm in Laguna Niguel in May 2006, his bail was increased to $1 million.
Investigators, unaware the cases were connected, put the two together and Shamsi was accused of committing a crime while out on bail, Bryant said. However, Shamsi failed to show for court Dec. 14, and eluded authorities until April 23, 2010, when investigators, including one who had been on the case since its inception, caught him driving south on the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway in Lancaster.
Shamsi was charged with several others in Daliri's abduction. Daliri hired a contractor, who employed his brother Shamsi, to remodel a home he owned in Orange, which he rented out, according to prosecutors.
Shamsi recruited brothers Esau Abrajan and Eric Anthony Velasquez to abduct Daliri. Velasquez and Abrajan snatched Daliri from the house in Orange, bound and blindfolded him and gagged him with duct tape. They kept him in the home in Orange for two days before moving him to the Long Beach motel. Scott Douglass Burns drove the moving truck used to relocate Daliri; Abrajan and Velasquez kept guard on the victim in the motel; while Shamsi used Daliri's credit cards for 13 days, according to prosecutors.
After 13 days, Shamsi called Daliri's girlfriend and demanded a $10,000 ransom, according to prosecutors. The girlfriend called police and Shamsi was arrested as he tried to pick up the ransom money with Brian David Good, who drove him. Velasquez was watching Daliri when police arrived to rescue him and Abrajan showed up as they were arresting Velasquez.
Daliri told investigators he was fed only three or four times and allowed to shower twice during the two weeks. He was treated at a hospital for dehydration and minor cuts after being freed. Daliri also told investigators his captors would hold small parties in the motel room, where some partygoers would use drugs and shoot rubber pellets at him. Shamsi was the lone defendant still awaiting trial.
Abrajam and Velasquez pleaded guilty Oct. 15, 2009, to one felony count each of kidnapping with the use of a dangerous weapon, grand theft, possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of stolen property. Abrajam and Velasquez were sentenced in January 2010 to 11 years in prison and given credit for the approximately eight years they served in custody awaiting trial.
Good pleaded guilty to a felony count of kidnapping on Feb. 28, 2006, and was sentenced to five years in prison. Burns, who was going to testify against Shamsi in the case, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and residential burglary charges and was scheduled to be sentenced after the trial this month, Bryant said. Burns' attorney may move up the sentencing hearing now because Burns already has enough time in custody to cover his planned nine-year-and-four- months prison sentence, Bryant said.
The same is true for co-defendant Mark Dumais, who also struck a plea bargain in the case and was going to testify against Shamsi, Bryant said. Shamsi pleaded guilty today to first-degree robbery, kidnapping, 10 felony counts of second-degree commercial burglary for the 10 times he used the victim's credit cards and one count of fraudulent use of a credit cards, Bryant said. He also pleaded guilty of marijuana cultivation, possession of marijuana for sale and committing a crime while out on bail for another crime, Bryant said.
--City News Service