A Los Angeles real estate agent is suspected of helping and encouraging an impostor to steal from celebrities’ homes.
Beverly Hills agent Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, and Benjamin Eitan Ackerman, 33, were charged with using open houses to burglarize the homes of stars including musicians Usher, Jason Derulo and Adam Lambert, former football player Shaun Phillips, and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills‘ Dorit Kemsley. Although Ackerman was arrested on suspicion of theft in 2018, investigators now believe Yaselli, who is listed on realtor.com as an agent for Keller Williams Beverly Hills, served as Ackerman’s accomplice in the crime spree between 2016 to 2018.
At the time, only Ackerman had been named as a suspect. The Los Angeles Police Department announced that a search of Ackerman’s home and storage unit produced more than 2,000 stolen items, including expensive jewelry, rare art and fine wine. The District Attorney now believes Yaselli, whose professional website is bare but for the words “coming soon,” encouraged Ackerman to pose as a real estate agent and steal the luxury items from 14 celebrity homes.
The two men would then sell the items and use the proceeds to make monthly payments of between $5,566 and $20,000 on Yaselli’s credit card bill. (Ackerman was arrested but not formally charged in September.)
It was unclear if Yaselli had any professional ties to the open houses or if, like Ackerman, he simply posed as an agent representing a client.
Yaselli and Ackerman now face charges that include money laundering, residential burglary and identity theft. They are suspected of stealing more than $500,000 through fraud and embezzlement. If convicted, they could each face as much as 31 years in prison.
While Ackerman pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Aug. 19, Yaselli is expected to be arraigned Friday. A prosecutor recommended a bail of $1.73 million. A trial for Ackerman, who is reportedly out on $1.2 million bail, is scheduled for Oct. 3. His attorney insists he is innocent and that none of the charges have been proven in court.
The LAPD investigation into the case is still ongoing.
“The District Attorney’s press release, by specifically naming Usher Raymond and Adam Lambert as alleged victims, only emphasizes what we have believed from day one, that this is a publicity driven prosecution,” lawyer Gary Jay Kaufman said in a media statement.
“The People’s case is no better today than it was a year ago. Unlike a fine wine, this case does not get better with age. Mr. Ackerman is not just presumed to be innocent, he is in fact innocent.”