Still missing: One black duffel bag stuffed with $360,540 in cash.
Zulmai Nazarzai was ordered to turn that money over to a court receiver more than seven years ago to satisfy part of a $4 million judgment against him and his loan-modification company, which stood accused of ripping off desperate and elderly people on the verge of losing their homes.
Nazarzai said he took the cash from his closet and gave it to his then-girlfriend, who packed it in a black duffel bag and headed to Los Angeles to deliver it. But she blacked out on the way, she testified, and the money was gone when she awoke.
The judge called it the least believable story he had ever heard — “and I’ve heard some whoppers” — and sent Nazarzai to jail on charges of civil contempt for defying his turn-over order. Nazarzai remained behind bars for nearly six years, from Dec. 7, 2010 to Nov. 4, 2016, when Orange County Superior Court Judge Andrew Banks decided continued incarceration wouldn’t make the money re-appear and released him.
Now, Nazarzai is suing the County of Orange and Sheriff Sandra Hutchens in federal court for at least $25 million, accusing them of violating his civil rights.
The county denies the allegations, saying the federal court has no jurisdiction to hear such a case and urging the judge to sanction Nazarzai’s lawyers for, essentially, lying.
In Dickensian detail, Nazarzai’s suit describes life in “administrative segregation,” where he was isolated from the jail’s other inmates. He was confined in “the hole” — “a minuscule cell
that restricts a prisoner’s ability to move about, exercise or communicate” — for extended periods; was denied the right to attend weekly religious services and meet with a religious advisor; had his prayer rug confiscated; was harassed because he’s Muslim; and was denied access to exercise yards or other facilities over the entire course of his incarceration, the suit says.
When Nazarzai threatened to air his…