The boys drowned strapped inside — but his wife managed to escape the sinking vehicle.
A California father has been sentenced to 212 years in prison for the murder of his sons and the attempted murder of their mother.
The 45-year-old intentionally drove off a wharf at the Port of Los Angeles into the ocean with his wife and two autistic sons in the car in a plot to collect accidental death insurance policies he had taken out on their lives.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter passed the maximum sentence allowed by law because of the "evil and diabolical scheme" and the "vicious and callous nature of his crimes."
"He is the ultimate phony and a skillful liar… and is nothing more than a greedy and brutal killer," Judge Walter said. "The only regret that the defendant has is that he got caught."
Between July 2012 and March 2013, right after he exited a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Ali Elmezayen bought life and accidental death policies on himself and his family, from eight different insurers, worth more than $3million.
He paid more than $6,000 in premiums per year for them, despite reporting income of less than $30k per annum on his tax returns.
He repeatedly called the insurance companies — sometimes pretending to be his then-wife — to verify the policies were in place and would pay out if she died in an accident. He also asked to verify they would not investigate claims that were made two years after purchase.
On April 9, 2015, exactly 12 days after the two-year contestability period on the last of his insurance policies expired, Elmezayen drove a car with his wife and two youngest children off a fishermen's loading dock.
Elmezayen swam out the open driver's side window of the car. His now ex-wife, who could not swim, managed to escape the sinking vehicle and only managed to survive because a nearby fisherman threw her a floatation device.
Their two sons, aged 8 and 13 and both severely autistic, did not escape their restraints and drowned.
The couple's eldest son was away at camp at the time and was not in the car.
Elmezayen then collected more than $260,000 in insurance proceeds, and used part of the insurance proceeds to purchase real estate in Egypt, where he was originally from, as well as a boat.
He also tried to collect more money by trying to blame the Port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County in a wrongful death lawsuit, but lost.
"[Elmezayen] murdered his disabled children and attempted to murder his ex-wife for money," the prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum. "After years of physically and emotionally abusing his ex-wife and neglecting the children, [Elmezayen] bought $3.4 million in insurance on their lives, waited for two years so the insurance companies would not contest his claims, and then drove them into the ocean, leaving them to drown. That was [Elmezayen’s] fraudulent scheme. It was also premeditated murder."
"Mr. Elmezayen conceived a cold-blooded plan to murder his autistic sons and their mother, then cash in on insurance policies," said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison. "He now has ample time to reflect – from the inside of a federal prison cell – on where his greed and self-interest took him. We continue to grieve for those two helpless boys who deserved better from their father, who will never again walk among us as a free man."
Kristi Johnson, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office, added: "Fathers are supposed to protect their children but instead, Elmezayen drove his boys straight to their certain death in exchange for cash."
"The defendant maliciously planned the death of his autistic sons and gave them virtually no chance of survival. The investigation that led to today's sentencing won't give them their lives, but affords them justice in death."
During his nine-day trial in October 2019, a federal jury also found Elmezayen guilty of four counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and five counts of money laundering.
"Today Ali Elmezayen was held accountable for his actions, which directly led to the tragic death of his two sons. It is unthinkable that any father would jeopardize the lives of his family for his own financial gain," said Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner of IRS Criminal Investigation. "IRS-CI is proud to work alongside our law enforcement partners to help bring some closure to this horrifying scheme."
As well as his prison sentence, Judge Walter also ordered Elmezayen to pay $261,751 in restitution to the insurance companies that he defrauded.