SAN DIEGO (KGTV/CNS) - Opening statements were delivered Thursday in the civil trial between NFL quarterback Drew Brees and a La Jolla jeweler who allegedly sold the football pro and his wife diamonds far above their actual value.
Brees took the stand to describe the close relationship he says he had with the store owner.
"He always talked about it as being an investment," said Brees. "Something that you could see appreciate in value."
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court last year, accuses Vahid Moradi and his company, CJ Charles Jewelers, of selling Brees and his wife Brittany $15 million worth of diamonds between 2012 to 2016.
"Vahid became a good friend," said Brees. "Our idea was that if we wanted to sell this in 3-5 years we could see a return on that investment. We'd see a profit."
However, when the couple took the diamonds to an independent appraiser in 2017, they were told that the diamonds were worth about $9 million less than they had paid, according to the original complaint.
Among the pieces Moradi sold the Breeses was a diamond ring they purchased for $8.1 million that was actually worth $3.75 million, they allege.
When the Breeses confronted Moradi, he allegedly assured them that the diamonds were expected to appreciate in value, but he "confessed he charged Plaintiffs a substantial markup," which represented "the price at which Moradi expected the jewelry could be resold in 10 to 15 years because Moradi knew Plaintiffs wanted a ‘long term investment.’”
Moradi's attorney says it is normal for jewelers to charge customers more for items than what they pay in wholesale prices. He says Brees is simply tearing Moradi's life apart.
"Football icon, Drew Brees, [is] plotting to destroy the reputation and business of my client," said Pete Ross."
The jeweler is also accused of refusing to refund money he "acknowledges he owes Plaintiffs." Court documents state that the Breeses wired Moradi $244,000 to buy a watch, but they later changed their mind regarding the purchase. Moradi allegedly retained the money as store credit, which the Breeses asked him to return after the diamond disagreement unfolded, but Moradi allegedly refused.
Court filings from Moradi allege that Aldo Dinelli, the appraiser the Breeses consulted, scammed the couple. After his appraisal of the diamonds, Dinelli allegedly advised the Breeses to sell the pieces -- now at prices below their actual worth -- to a wholesale dealer associated with Dinelli, Moradi claims.