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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (CBS5) -
The owners of a luxury used-car dealership in Scottsdale pleaded not guilty to federal money laundering charges.
Hamid Salari and his brother, Saeid Salari, made their pleas at an arraignment Friday, according to Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation spokesman Brian Watson.
The Salari brothers and Farah Isaac, a jewelry store owner who works with the Salari brothers, were arrested last month on charges of money laundering, conspiracy and currency-violation charges after the undercover operation that began in late September of 2013.
The complaint states the Salari brothers, owners of the Luxor Auto Group at 3220 N. Scottsdale Rd., accepted bags of cash from undercover agents posing as drug dealers in exchange for keeping their names off any paperwork regarding the transactions of more than $10,000 in cash from drug transactions.
Saeid Salari met with an undercover agent on Sept. 24, 2013 and the same agent and a second undercover agent on Nov. 13, 2013. He agreed to sell an $80,000 vehicle to the agents, and contacted his brother as to the best way to conduct the transaction, according to the complaint.
Hamid Salari suggested using a third party for an additional fee, and that a $20,000 cash down payment and subsequent $60,000 cash payment be made in Crown Royal bags, according to the complaint.
Hamid Salari assured them on Dec. 12, 2013 he would take care of everything and that the cash transactions would not be reported, and if questioned, he would simply say he forgot to file the necessary paperwork.
Federal authorities verified that no forms were filed on behalf of Luxor between November and December, but that $58,000 in cash had been deposited into Luxor's bank account on Dec. 12.
During their last meeting, one of the agents noticed a jewelry case with advertising for Isaac Jewelers, and Hamid Salari said the owner would be willing to take cash up to $30,000 to purchase jewelry without any documentation being filed.
The agents, again claiming to be drug dealers, paid cash for jewelry from Isaac, who didn't report the transactions, according to the complaint.
The agents went back to Luxor in April and offered Hamid Salari $200,000 in cash for another vehicle, and cash for more jewelry from Isaac, according to the complaint.
IRS agents with the assistance of Scottsdale police then raided the business and made the arrests.
The Luxor Auto Group also has a location in Mesa, according to the company's website.
Hamid Salari is listed as the president and Saeid "Sy" Salari as the CEO.
The company specializes in the sales of luxury used cars and SUVs.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
Friday, May 16 2014 6:38 PM EDT2014-05-16 22:38:09 GMT
Federal authorities say the owners of a Valley luxury car dealership took bags of cash from undercover agents posing as drug dealers. Authorities say Hamid and Saeid Salari agreed to money laundering throughMore >>
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