Southern California man pleads guilty to kickback scheme to defraud Williams Sonoma


Defendant admits to conspiring to arrange kickbacks and divert payments belonging to Williams Sonoma to a shell company and private accounts

Date: May 31, 2023


Kourosh Mirmehdi pleaded guilty in federal court today to charges related to his role in a multi-million-dollar fraudulent kickback scheme, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Darren Lian. The plea was accepted by the Hon. Richard Seeborg, U.S. District Judge.

In his plea agreement, Mirmehdi, of Irvine, Calif., admitted he conspired with two co-defendants to divert and steal millions of dollars in commercial real estate broker commission rebates. Mirmehdi worked for a global logistics company that assisted Williams Sonoma, Inc. (WSI) in securing commercial warehouse space. WSI is a home-goods retailer headquartered in San Francisco that operates brands such as Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and West Elm. As an employee of the global logistics company, Mirmehdi assisted commercial real estate brokers in locating warehouses for WSI to lease. Mirmehdi also assisted in negotiating the lease terms for WSI. As part of the negotiations, WSI often was entitled to receive millions of dollars in broker rebates after entering into commercial leasing agreements. Mirmehdi admitted that, beginning around 2020, he was involved in a conspiracy to divert and steal those rebates.

Mirmehdi acknowledged that the scheme involved duping commercial real estate brokers into sending rebates to a co-conspirator's shell company, rather than to WSI. Mirmehdi and his co-conspirators—one of whom was employed by WSI—falsely represented to commercial real estate brokers that the co-conspirator's company was connected to WSI. In fact, the company had nothing to do with WSI and was merely a shell company owned by a co-conspirator. Mirmehdi split the diverted payments with his co-conspirators. In total, the scheme to defraud garnered approximately $4.1 million, with more than $1.35 million going to Mirmehdi.

Mirmehdi was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 11, 2023. He was charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy, four counts of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering conspiracy. Under the plea agreement, Mirmehdi pleaded guilty to the wire fraud conspiracy and the money laundering conspiracy counts. If Mirmehdi complies with his plea agreement, the remaining counts will be dismissed at sentencing.

Mirmehdi is currently released on bond. His next appearance is November 14, 2023. Mirmehdi now faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy counts, as well as a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud conspiracy count and a $500,000 fine for the money laundering conspiracy count. As part of any sentence the court also may order Mirmehdi to serve an additional term of supervised release and to pay restitution, if appropriate. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence.

Charges against Mirmehdi's three co-defendants remain pending.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ross Weingarten and Christiaan Highsmith are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elizabeth Kim. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the IRS-CI.