DOWNTOWN — Los Angeles County prosecutors have charged six people in connection with the theft of $3.2 million worth of paintings, wine, jewelry and a luxury car from bond guru Jeffrey Gundlach’s Santa Monica home last September.
Darren Agee Merager, 43, is charged with two counts each of first-degree residential burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime and one count of receiving stolen property stemming from break-ins at Gundlach’s home last Sept. 12 and 13.
Merager has a string of felony convictions dating back to 1991. If convicted he faces more than nine years in state prison.
Jay Jeffrey Nieto, 45, is charged with one count each of first-degree residential burglary, receiving stolen property and being an accessory after the fact and two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime.
Wanis George Wahba, 29, and his 26-year-old brother, Ely George Wahba, are charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime and one count each of receiving stolen property and being an accessory after the fact.
Merager’s mother, Brenda Joyce Merager, 68, is charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit a crime, receiving stolen property and being an accessory after the fact.
Wilmer Bolosan Cadiz, 40, is charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit a crime and receiving stolen property.
All six plead not guilty.
Darren Merager is accused of breaking into Gundlach’s home and stealing valuable art work, jewelry and wine, according to Deputy District Attorney Alva Lin.
Merager allegedly returned to the house hours later at Nieto’s behest and stole Gundlach’s Porsche; Nieto is accused of helping to conceal the stolen art and other items at a Pasadena store where he worked; and the Wahba brothers and Merager’s mother allegedly tried to conceal and sell the stolen items.
Gundlach, the CEO of DoubleLine Capital, offered rewards of nearly $2 million for return of the artwork, as well as watches, rare wine, currency and a red 2010 Porsche Carrera 4S that had been taken.
The art that was taken included works by Piet Mondrian, Jasper Johns, Philip Guston and Richard Diebenkorn.
Santa Monica police said last September that most of the stolen paintings had been recovered.
The Los Angeles Police Department, FBI, Department of Justice and Interpol worked with the Santa Monica and Pasadena police departments on the investigation.
All six defendants were ordered jailed on $10 million bail while awaiting their next appearance Jan. 18 at the Airport Branch Courthouse in Los Angeles.