SAN DIEGO — Closing arguments wrapped up Tuesday in the civil trial of a La Jolla jeweler accused of intentionally defrauding NFL quarterback Drew Brees and his wife out of millions of dollars by overcharging them for diamonds.
The case is now in the hands of the jury, which must decide whether La Jolla jeweler Vahid Moradi cheated the Breeses when he sold them several investment diamonds.
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court last year, accuses Moradi and his company, CJ Charles Jewelers, of selling Brees and his wife Brittany several supposedly investment grade diamonds that were supposed to appreciate in value.
The attorney for Breeses began closing arguments recounting how the couple turned to Moradi, their longtime jeweler and friend, to purchase $15 million worth of what were to be investment diamonds. The purchases were from CJ Charles Jewelers of La Jolla between 2012 and 2016. But when the couple took the diamonds to Aldo Dinelli, an independent appraiser, in 2017, they were told the diamonds were worth $9 million less than what they had paid for them.
During the trial, Drew Brees testified that a diamond ring Moradi sold him for $8.1 million that was appraised at only $3.75 million.
Moradi’s attorney, Peter Ross, argued that Dinelli, a Houston-based jeweler, was the con man who scammed the couple, not Moradi. Ross said any discrepancies between what Moradi paid to obtain the diamonds and what the Breeses paid him was part of a standard markup that is commonplace within the industry to allow retailers to cover business expenses.
But Andrew Kim, who is representing the Breeses, told jurors that Moradi betrayed the couple’s trust.
“He was negotiating on his own behalf. He was seeking the best price for Mr. Moradi not for Mr. Brees. This shows you the harm that the Brees suffered,” Kim said. “You have the investment prices the Brees actually paid. You have the secret hidden acquisition cost that CJ Charles negotiated for Mr. Moradi’s benefit. and then you have the difference.”
The jury will begin deliberations on Thursday.