A California jeweler scammed Drew Brees and his wife out of $9 million by having them overpay for diamonds during a seven-year period, according to a lawsuit the couple filed Monday.
The lawsuit accuses Vahid Moradi, of CJ Charles Jewelers in San Diego, of fraud and breach of contract.
Despite the Brees’ allegations in the 29-page lawsuit, Moradi’s attorney denied any wrongdoing by his client.
Attorney Eric George told The New Orleans Advocate that Drew Brees “aggressively purchased” the diamonds, including an $8 million ring, and became disappointed when they did not increase in value as quickly as the star quarterback hoped.
"Mr. Brees’ behavior and his belief that he was wronged because the jewelry did not appreciate in value as quickly as he hoped both demonstrate a lack of integrity and contradict basic principles of both economics and the law," George's statement to The Advocate said. "He should restrict his game-playing to the football field, and refrain from bullying honest, hard-working businessmen like my client."
According to the lawsuit, Moradi met the couple about two years after Drew Brees signed his rookie contract with the San Diego Chargers.
Between 2012 and 2016, the couple had purchased about $15 million in so-called “investment diamonds” meant to appreciate in value over time. An appraiser Drew and Brittany Brees hired, however, told them they overpaid by about $9 million, according to the lawsuit.
Of the $15 million the couple spent on diamonds, more than half went toward a blue diamond ring the couple bought for $8.2 million. That ring was actually worth about $3.7 million, a markup of 118 percent, the lawsuit claims.
“Moradi confessed he charged plaintiffs a substantial markup. Moradi insisted unabashedly that he had done nothing wrong because he charged the plaintiffs the price at which Moradi expected the jewelry could be resold in ten to fifteen years because Moradi knew plaintiffs wanted a ‘long-term investment,’” the lawsuit reads.
“In addition to lying and defrauding plaintiffs, Moradi has refused to refund them money Moradi acknowledges he owes plaintiffs,” the lawsuit continues.
The Brees’ relationship with Moradi began when Drew Brees wanted to buy watches that could increase in value over time.
That professional relationship blossomed into a personal one, court documents say, and Moradi became involved with the couple’s charitable foundation.
The couple eventually severed ties with Moradi, who they also accuse of refusing to return to them $244,000 they wired to him for a watch they ultimately decided to not buy. Moradi allegedly said he would convert that money into store credit instead.
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego, seeks to recover at least $9 million in damages as well as a refund for the $244,000.
New Orleans Advocate staff writer Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report.