Caffe Primo investor, charged with EB-5 fraud, scraps LA expansion plans

He pocketed roughly $10M from foreign investors

Aug.August 01, 2017 02:30 PM
Caffe Primo on Flower Street in Downtown Los Angeles (credit: Google Maps)

Fans of the local food chain Caffe Primo have been fed a lot of false promises — and, allegedly, so were its EB-5 investors.

The company abandoned plans last week to open at the base of a mixed-use building at 702 Arizona Avenue in Santa Monica, years after first putting up signage that indicated the contrary, Eater reported. It is one of several promised expansions that never came to be while almost $10 million from foreign investors allegedly went directly into the pockets of Emilio Francisco, who raised EB-5 money for the Primo locations under his Costa Mesa consulting firm, PDC Capital Group.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud suit against Francisco, a Newport Beach-based lawyer, late last year. The suit alleges he abused the EB-5 program, misspending at least $9.5 million from 131 investors while failing to open the projects that fit the program’s requirements for job creation.

Instead of opening the new Primo locations he had promised investors, Francisco spent the funds on items such as a yacht, a yacht club membership, and his family members’ credit cards, the suit alleges.

Though Caffe Primo closed one of its shops on Sunset Boulevard after a judge froze Francisco’s assets earlier this year, its locations in Downtown Los Angeles and West Hollywood are still open for business, according to Eater. [ELA] – Naiwen Tian

Related Articles

From left: Nuveen CEO Vijay Advani, Graymark founder/CEO Brian Hecktman

Graymark, Nuveen pay $97M for El Segundo creative office

La Mirada industrial building

Clarion pays $77M for La Mirada industrial project

510 Park Avenue and CEO of Monster Beverage Rodney Sacks

Monster Beverage affiliate guzzles down industrial project in San Fernando

From left: Saeed Nourmand, Michael Nourmand, Grant King and Richard Heyman

Relevant Group sues Nourmand & Associates’ founder, alleging extortion over hotel projects

Centennial founder and CEO Steven Levin with a rendering of the project

Centennial Real Estate approved for sprawling $300M mixed-use village

Apartment complex at 1435 Stanley Avenue and Raintree Partners CEO Jeffrey Allen (Credit: Apartment Finder)

Raintree Partners spends $79M on Glendale multifamily portfolio

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

Down goes Measure EE: Property tax referendum routed at polls

CIM Group Founders, Shaul Kuba, Richard Ressler, and Avi Shemesh and 4750 Wilshire Boulevard (Credit: Google Maps)

CIM Group lists part of its Miracle Mile office campus