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He boasted of high-level connections that he claimed could attract President Barack Obama to a party he planned, and dropped the names of A-list actors who lived near a Venice Beach house he used as an office. Today, the man who described himself in court testimony as a “creative guy” and a dreamer faces not only charges of wire fraud, but also money laundering, mail fraud and obstruction of justice.
Two separate trials of Stratos will play out this year in the 15th-floor courtroom of U. Jurors will hear testimony about the inner workings of Facebook, claims that Stratos boasted of deals with Saudi royals and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, and descriptions of the extravagant lifestyle Stratos led until his arrest on Dec. His prosecution is expected to generate testimony from and about some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent executives and celebrities, ranging from Murphy to legendary jazz singer Nancy Wilson, who is Stratos’ stepmother.
A federal grand jury concluded that, whatever their relationship, he conned her into giving him the money by promising he would invest it for her in Dubai, “where the proceeds would earn a high rate of return,” according to a December 2011 indictment.
He also said he would help her sell the Granite Bay mansion the Murphys had shared in the gated Los Lagos development, court papers state, a 12,600-square-foot home with 14 bathrooms, 10 bedroom suites and a 5,200-square-foot guest house that cost ,000 a month in upkeep.
He convinced Nicole Murphy that because her cash was tied up overseas, she needed to raise money by refinancing the property and a home belonging to her mother in Sacramento, the indictment says.
Prosecutors say Stratos never invested her money overseas, but used it for his own expenses.
Court documents say those are two of several names he has used to keep his financial deals afloat and shield him from the avalanche of negative online postings.
He wasn’t expecting company, much less federal agents.
According to the indictment, Stratos claimed he knew Middle Eastern royals who would be interested in buying the home, and he convinced her that “home purchasers would expect to see luxury automobiles” there and would want to buy them along with the house.
He eventually moved into the house – Stratos testified that he was a caretaker – and leased luxury vehicles for his own use, the indictment alleges.
Stratos, who was known as Troy Stafford until he was 21 and still uses the name from time to time, was raised by his grandparents in Fair Oaks.
He said he changed his last name to honor their Greek heritage.
She noted that much of the evidence will come from an admitted embezzler looking to spare himself years in prison by testifying against his former business associate.