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Father gets 212 years in prison for scheme that killed his autistic sons for life insurance

A federal judge in California called Ali Elmezayen "nothing more than a greedy and brutal killer" during sentencing for the "evil and diabolical" plot.
Rescuers with the Los Angeles Fire Department pulled two boys from a submerged vehicle on April 9, 2015.
Rescuers with the Los Angeles Fire Department pulled two boys from a submerged vehicle on April 9, 2015.David Gregory / NBC Los Angeles

A California man was sentenced to more than two centuries in prison on Thursday for his plot to drive his partner and two autistic sons off a wharf at the Port of Los Angeles, killing his children, in order to collect life insurance money.

Ali F. Elmezayen, 45 was hit with the maximum sentence for charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft, and money laundering in the scheme to kill his family for millions in insurance money. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter called it an “evil and diabolical” scheme during Thursday’s sentencing.

“He is the ultimate phony and a skillful liar…and is nothing more than a greedy and brutal killer,” Walter said. “The only regret that the defendant has is that he got caught.”

Elmezeyan bought more than $3 million in life and accidental death insurance policies for himself and his family between 2012 and 2013, around the same time he finished a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

Prosecutors played phone call recordings at trial in which Elmezeyan asked to confirm that the policies were active, would be paid out upon an accidental death, and that the companies would not investigate claims made two years after the policies were purchased.

Less than two weeks after that two-year period was over, Elmezeyan drove his family off a loading dock at the Port of Los Angeles. Elmezayen’s two severely autistic sons — 13-year-old Elhassan and 8-year-old Abdelkrim — drowned after being trapped in the car.

The boys’ mother, Rabab Diab, survived the crash after a fisherman threw her a flotation device. Elmezayen left his car window open so that he was able to swim away, prosecutors said. The couple had a third son together who was away at camp and was not in the car at the time of the crash, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

“Dissatisfied with his financial and family situation, Mr. Elmezayen fraudulently purchased millions of dollars in insurance on his common-law wife and disabled young sons, and then drove them off a pier in order to cash in,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said. “These two boys deserved a loving father; instead they got a man who put his greed and self-interest above their lives.”

In addition to being sentenced to 212 years in prison in the plot, Walter ordered Elmezayen to pay $261,751 in restitution to the insurance companies.

Elmezeyan is also facing murder charges in a pending state case, where he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.