SAN JOSE, Calif. (Source: San Jose Mercury News) - An ex-Fry's executive indicted on a charge of allegedly trying to shake down the electronics store's vendors to support a lavish lifestyle has filed for bankruptcy, listing nearly $137 million in debt, much of it to Vegas casinos.
Ausaf "Omar" Siddiqui was once a prized "whale" in Vegas, a high roller who demanded that casino butlers and bellboys call him "Mr. S" and fill his room with golden raisins, bottles of Dom Perignon and Glitterati Mentissimo peppermints adorned with a single rose.
Siddiqui's Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing July 13 in San Jose shows he's on the hook for $11.5 million to the MGM Grand Hotel, $5.7 million to Caesar's Palace, $2.3 million to the Palms Casino Resort, and $1 million to Hard Rock. That's not to mention the "unknown" amounts he owes other creditors, Mohegan Tribal Gaming in Connecticut, and three high-end casinos in London -- Les Ambassadeurs, Aspinalls and Maxim's Casino Club.
On top of that, he owes money to at least five Fry's vendors, the bankruptcy filing says. They are the same vendors who have sued him for more than $10 million, alleging he used his position at Fry's to force them to pay kickbacks in order to place their wares on store shelves. He also faces $15 million in state tax liens, according to court records.
"We're not surprised that he would have filed for bankruptcy," said attorney Robert Rivas, who represents two of the creditors. "But the amount is obviously rather staggering."
Fry's spokesman Manuel Valerio said the company was "aware Omar had filed for bankruptcy. But we have no comment."
Filing for bankruptcy would enable Siddiqui to potentially eliminate a good deal of his debt, although some of his assets could be divided among the creditors.
The bankruptcy follows on the heels of his criminal case, which the Internal Revenue Service filed in December 2008 charging him with the kickback embezzlement scheme against Fry's, where Siddiqui had worked since the 1980s. Fry's fired Siddiqui shortly after the federal arrest, and he was placed on house arrest.
The IRS initially alleged Siddiqui was responsible for $65 million illegally acquired through exorbitantly high commissions he had vendors pay to line Fry's shelves with their products. He then used some of that money to gamble. Federal prosecutors ended up charging Siddiqui with nine felony counts of wire fraud and money laundering totaling $6 million.
His case was scheduled to have gone to trial in February, but instead, Siddiqui's attorney, Paul Meltzer of Santa Cruz, Calif., filed a sealed document later that month. The status of the case is a mystery. Neither Meltzer nor the federal prosecutor, Thomas Moore, have commented.
Siddiqui didn't return a call seeking comment, and neither did his bankruptcy attorney, Basil Boutris, of Oakland, Calif.
In an earlier interview related to the sealed document, Valerio told the San Jose Mercury News he was aware that Siddiqui had entered a guilty plea, but that has never officially been confirmed.
Rivas deposed Siddiqui this week in bankruptcy court and was only allowed to ask him limited questions. Rivas said he tried asking Siddiqui about his criminal case, but Siddiqui repeatedly took the Fifth Amendment.
The bankruptcy filing also notes that Siddiqui listed $6.9 million in assets, including his Palo Alto condominium and 32 acres of land in San Jose. His assets include $4.6 million in Fry's stock, which the company is voiding, and a still-viable 5 percent share worth an "unknown" amount of San Jose Arena Football Co., which owns the SaberCats football team and has been run by a group that includes Fry's family.
And Siddiqui had $80 in his checking account.
AUSAF 'OMAR' SIDDIQUI'S BANKRUPTCY FILING:
Total liabilities: $136,558,093
--MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, $11.5 million
--Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, $5.7 million
--Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, $2.3 million
--Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, $1 million
Total assets: $6,952,821
--32 acres on McKean Road in San Jose, valued at $1.1 million
--Condominium on Charleston Avenue in Palo Alto, valued at $800,000
--Furniture and home wares: $5,000
--Cash on hand: $500
--Checking account: $80
SOURCE: Bankruptcy filing documents
Source: San Jose Mercury News
(c) 2011, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).
Visit MercuryNews.com, the World Wide Web site of the Mercury News, at http://www.mercurynews.com.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
For reprints, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.
A service of YellowBrix, Inc. Publication date: 2011-08-19