Man Sentenced to 212 Years in Prison for Scheme That Killed 2 Sons with Autism After Driving Family Off Wharf

Ali F. Elmezayen was convicted on multiple counts, including money laundering, in 2019

Deadly Pier Plunge
Divers searching the waters off San Pedro, California, after a car plunged off a pier with two children strapped inside. Photo: Steve McCrank/The Orange County Register/AP

A California father of two has been sentenced to more than 200 years behind bars for an elaborate plot described as "premeditated murder" by prosecutors to kill his ex-wife and sons for life insurance.

Ali F. Elmezayen, 45, received the maximum sentence of 212 years in federal prison Thursday from United States District Judge John F. Walter, who called Elmezayen "the ultimate phony and a skillful liar," and added that he "is nothing more than a greedy and brutal killer."

Elmezayen was found guilty of four counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and five counts of money laundering in a multiple-day trial in October 2019. He has been in federal custody since his arrest in 2018.

Elmezayen purchased more than $3 million of life and accidental death insurance policies on his family members and himself from eight different insurance companies between July 2012 and March 2013, prosecutors said. The purchase of the policies occurred in the same year he concluded a bankruptcy case.

For the following two years, Elmezayen called the insurance companies multiple times to confirm that the policies were active and would pay benefits if his ex-wife died accidentally.

The Department of Justice said that he "also called at least two of the insurance companies to confirm they would not investigate claims made two years after the policies were purchased."

In April 2015 — 12 days after the two-year contestability period ended for the final of the insurance policies — Elmezayren drove his car with his ex-wife and two young sons off a Port of Los Angeles wharf.

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Elmezayren swam out of the open driver's side window, and his ex-wife, though she did not know how to swim, also managed to escape the car and survived with the help of a fisherman who was nearby.

Their two sons, ages 8 and 13, who both had autism, were buckled in and drowned. Elmezayren and his ex-wife share a third son, who was away at camp and not in the accident.

Elmezayren ended up collecting $260,000 from Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance and American General Life Insurance on the policies he had previously taken out on his sons' lives.

According to the DOJ, he used part of that money to buy a boat and real estate in Egypt.

Elmezayen was also ordered Thursday to pay $261,751 in restitution to the insurance companies that he defrauded.

According to NBC News, Elmezayen is still facing murder charges in a pending state case. It is not clear if he has entered a plea for those charges. His lawyer did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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