The Shah Was a Sham

A fake Irani prince leaves Denver victims feeling royally screwed.

Zand can't remember exactly when she first laid eyes on Patrik. "April," she says. "Maybe June." For the first month or two, she watched him only from a distance. She got to know him better, however, after he reportedly offered to purchase her business for $1 million.

Zand opened up her books for Patrik. She let him use her car. She loaned him money. "Anything I have, I tried to give it to him," she says, "because I was sure I was going to get my money back."

Sometimes it seemed that Patrik was trying to buy anything and everything within his grasp.

The elegant LoDo Inn became the pretend prince's rent-free headquarters.
Brett Amole
The elegant LoDo Inn became the pretend prince's rent-free headquarters.
Lani Lee's, which sold Patrik thousands of dollars' worth of clothes, is moving on.
Brett Amole
Lani Lee's, which sold Patrik thousands of dollars' worth of clothes, is moving on.

"He wanted to buy some planes -- two planes," Zand says. "He said he was a pilot. He went to Dulles airport about buying a plane. He went to jewelry stores, car dealers, to so many realtors. He pretended that he was buying everything. In this way, he tried to fool everybody that he was real."

People were generous because they expected Patrik to be generous in return. "He got around $10,000 in jewelry from a store on Wisconsin Avenue," Zand says. He also reportedly talked a Virginia car dealership into "selling" him five new BMWs, for himself and his "entourage." By the time the dealer later recovered the cars, Patrik had driven three of them, lowering their value by tens of thousands of dollars because the mileage he'd put on them made them "used" cars.

Zand estimates that Patrik made off with $100,000 in money or goods. Although he took her for about $20,000, the biggest loser was a local bank. "They loaned him money. Almost $60,000," she says. "He fooled the president. He told him he was trying to bring money to that bank as an investment or a deposit, and the poor guy, without checking, gave him the money. After about two weeks, when they realized there was no money, they fired the guy."

Zand, as it turned out, was the only one to go to the police.

She says she became suspicious when, despite Patrik's repeated assurances, his money failed to arrive.

One day, after Patrik had been driving Zand's car for several weeks, he returned the vehicle to her. Unfortunately for him, he'd left his passport and other documents in the trunk. Zand kept the legal papers, which she says included information about political asylum.

Then she began some detective work.

"When we took his passport to the Belgian Embassy, they said it was a bad passport. It had been stolen in France. We went to the German Embassy and found that he had been in jail for nine months before coming here. The German Embassy says they know his real name but they cannot release it to us."

Zand also called the present Shah's office for information. (Cyrus Reza Shah II Pahlavi, heir to the Irani throne, lives with his family in Maryland.) "They said they didn't know this man."

And she bought books about the Shah's family. "I looked at a picture and realized that the person he was claiming to be and him look completely different," she says.

"The real Patrick Pahlavi is tall and blond. [Patrik] is short and dark."

Zand says the local police "didn't care" when she tried to report the theft of her money.

After she seized Patrik's documents, he knew the gig was up and hightailed it out of town.

"Unfortunately," Zand says, "then he did the same thing in Denver."

On September 29, Patrik showed up on the doorstep of Denver's LoDo Inn, an upscale, antique-filled bed-and-breakfast located at 16th and Wazee streets. He appeared well fed and well dressed. Not the type of guy you'd normally expect to see asking for a free place to flop for the night.

Yet that's exactly what he wanted.

Hotel owner Tom Broemmel was in the office and spoke with the stranger. Broemmel, who declined to be interviewed for this story, told friends that Patrik claimed he'd just arrived in Denver, by train. Patrik said his identification had been stolen, along with his luggage and $12,000 in cash. If Broemmel would give him a room, $500 and a bite to eat, Patrik said, he could continue his trip to California. After all, he boasted, he was a nephew of the Shah of Iran and he was good for the money.

Broemmel agreed.

Broemmel's trust in Patrik seems surprising for a man who's supposedly savvy about business. (He is said to have made a bundle in California in the high-tech video industry, "retired" to North Carolina and then sunk almost $4 million into purchasing the LoDo Inn, rehabbing rooms in the Victorian building and carving out a penthouse for himself and his wife, clothes designer Lani Lee.)

However, his trust in Patrik is downright shocking given Broemmel's repeated claims that he was an FBI agent in Portland at one time, a contention supported by a law-enforcement agent looking into Patrik's Denver dealings. (A spokeswoman for the FBI was unable to confirm or deny the claim.)

Broemmel would later tell friends that he believed Patrik's story in part because he'd checked it out on the Internet. Indeed, there is a Web site containing information about the Pahlavi dynasty. It includes a family tree, which lists an Ali Patrick Pahlavi under the heading "Other members of the Sovereign Family." A friend says Broemmel told her that Patrik had given him "some paperwork" attesting to his identity.

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let us know when you write the book because this man is somewhere in méxico doing whatever he wants


A great story on the imposter Ali Patrick Pahlav- a lot is missing I met him in 1992 when he defrauded Society General and Lansana Conteh- I have decided to write a book on him- and know one speaks about the Hundred million Dollars he nearly took from Boeing