Strange case of Lamborghini seizure and why police had to return car

Yusuf Nur in 2004 (State Department of Corrections)

LYNNWOOD — He bought the Lamborghini Gallardo off the lot.

It was electric blue, with just 174 miles. The buyer used his brother’s name and registered his father as the owner.

He was 21, and he hadn’t reported any income to the state for years. Lynnwood police already were asking questions.

They impounded the Lamborghini less than a month later. They kept it for eight years, because they suspected the car was purchased with the proceeds of criminal activity.

The buyer, Yusuf Nur, and his family eventually got the Lamborghini back, but they took the issue to court in August. They said the lengthy seizure deprived them of enjoying the car and that its value dropped in storage.

The Nurs earlier had indicated they would seek millions in damages, but two months later, they withdrew their lawsuit, and the city says there was no settlement.

It was an unusual end to a decade of criminal investigations and civil disputes that neither side cares to discuss.

Nur first came to the attention of Lynnwood detectives in 2006, when his dogs were hanged. Investigation of that case led to raids on his home and business, and scrutiny from federal agents. As recently as last year, he still was getting stuff back from impound.

Nur, who also goes by “Yogi,” just turned 32 and lives in Mukilteo now.

Damages and disputes

Most damage claims submitted to Lynnwood are related to potholes, fender benders and twisted ankles.

The claim filed in May was a little different. It sought $3 million in damages involving a 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo and a 2004 Mercedes Benz CLK500. In 2006, when it was impounded, the Lamborghini was worth more than $170,000.

Lamborghinis are made in Italy in bright metallic colors and are popular with rappers and celebrities. In Miami, a Gallardo can be rented for $1,200 a day.

In 2006, the Gallardo was featured in a Grammy-nominated Top Ten song. R&B artist Akon repeatedly encouraged his love interest to “jump up in my Lamborghini Gallardo.”

The same car was purchased by Nur, then 21, and living in Lynnwood.

The city and the police department declined to discuss Nur’s claim. They would not say how Nur came under investigation a decade ago, or why his cars were seized. The lawsuit and the claim, together totaling 101 pages, also did not explain the reason for the impound.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit were Yusuf Nur and the estate of his father, Emad Nur, who died this past spring. The attorney who represents the Nur family did not respond to emails or phone messages about this story. Nur and his brother, who is managing the estate, also did not return calls.

The city in court defended the vehicle seizures as lawful.

History in court

Authorities in multiple jurisdictions, including the U.S. Secret Service, have had their eyes on Yusuf Nur over the years. Some of the investigations led to charges and some did not. His attorney has argued that none of the cases had anything to do with his cars.

Nur is a felon whose most recent conviction was in 2011 for perjury regarding his signatures on business and banking documents. In that case, Lynnwood police and King County prosecutors accused Nur of stealing $14,700 from a business associate. Nur pleaded guilty to misdemeanor attempted theft. He was sentenced to nine months of house arrest.

Other convictions include filing a false insurance claim, criminal impersonation and possessing stolen property. He spent much of 2004 and 2005 under supervision by the state Department of Corrections.

That’s all laid out in court records.

What happened in 2006 with the Lamborghini is less clear, especially with nobody talking.

The Daily Herald obtained the Lynnwood Police Department’s files on Nur through public records requests.

Curious cars

Nur’s troubles in Lynnwood started with the death of his dogs that July. Someone killed his two pit bulls, hanging them from a fence post.

He allegedly identified himself as his brother while reporting the crime. At the time, Nur had misdemeanor warrants for his arrest.

Nur was considered a suspect in the dog case. Investigators took a DNA sample from him, but because it was not a crime against a person, the case was not eligible for forensic testing.

Nur told the police he owned a mortgage lending business in Bellevue. They looked into it. He had an office there, but no active license, and the state had no record of that business existing, documents show. The property manager told investigators that Nur appeared to work in the office alone for an hour or two each day. He reportedly wore casual clothes and left socks and dirty dishes strewn about.

Lynnwood police Cmdr. Steve Rider paid Nur a visit at the office on Sept. 25, 2006.

Again, Nur allegedly gave his brother’s name. He also handed Rider a business card with another name, Joseph Nur. By then, Rider knew of Nur’s taste for luxury cars.

It didn’t add up. For five years, Nur had not reported any income for himself or his business to the state Employment Security Department.

Luxury tastes

A month earlier, in August 2006, Nur purchased the Lamborghini in Bellevue. The price was $182,000. He paid with two trade-ins, a 2006 Porsche Cayenne and a 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL-500, and a cashier’s check for $72,000. The check was in his brother’s name.

Police alleged that Nur had two bank accounts using that name, and that at least $1.4 million flowed through those accounts. The cops suspected the cars were part of a money laundering scheme.

The Lamborghini salesman also had some concerns about Nur. He asked to meet Nur’s father, who would be listed as the registered owner. Someone claiming to be Emad Nur called the dealership and said he hoped to talk his son out of the purchase but he was too busy to come by. The salesman noted that the caller sounded “very young for his age.”

The dealership said Emad Nur could approve the purchase through a notary. State law requires the notary to witness the signature in person.

The dealership was provided the father’s signature and also a notary signature from a woman who worked as Nur’s secretary. The secretary was out of the state when the car was bought, police later determined.

Rider believed both signatures were forged.

The salesman said he had tried to contact Nur after the deal, including when the new license plates arrived, but it seemed that Nur had “disappeared.”

On Sept. 1, 2006, Nur purchased a white Mercedes Benz CLK500 in Seattle, using the name Joseph Nur. The CLK500 also was registered to his father. Nur wrote that dealership a check for $42,500.

Rider contacted Emad Nur, who said he knew about his son’s Mercedes but not the Lamborghini. He told Rider his son could use his name whenever he wanted, as long as it was not for something illegal.

Search and seizure

The raids started Sept. 26, 2006. Lynnwood police searched Nur’s home in Lynnwood and office in Bellevue, looking for evidence of mortgage fraud, identity theft and forgery.

At both sites, detectives noticed boxes containing computer monitors, some still sealed from the factory, with shipping labels for King County’s human services office.

That’s when the Lamborghini and the Mercedes were impounded. The Lamborghini was then worth $172,695, and the Mercedes was worth $38,950, according to Nur’s claim.

Police returned the next day with another search warrant for the computers. The secretary’s father ultimately was accused of stealing them from his work. The computers led to Nur’s conviction for possessing stolen property.

That fall, Lynnwood police also seized $199,000 from an account allegedly linked to Nur that was in his brother’s name.

The money was returned. A judge, however, declined a request in December 2006 to order the city to give back the cars. By then, the city had made clear it was taking steps toward asset forfeiture.

In 2009, an agent with the U.S. Secret Service collected evidence from Lynnwood police for further investigation. The agent had been looking into Nur’s bank activity, according to court papers. The Secret Service has jurisdiction over mortgage fraud.

Federal charges never were filed. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle in October said there was no public information to provide.

As recently as 2012, the city and the Nurs were arguing over whether it was possible to determine the ownership of the cars.

In the August lawsuit, Nur’s lawyer said the statute of limitations for local charges passed a long time ago and there was no legal reason for the city to have kept the cars for so many years.

Years later

When the Lamborghini was released, in October 2014, it was appraised at $119,159. That was about $54,000 less than it was worth in 2006, according to the claim. The market for the Gallardo had dropped after the release of its successor, the Huracan a month earlier.

The claim estimated that the Nurs were owed $1.46 million for the prolonged loss of the Lamborghini. A similar argument for the Mercedes, released in 2013, amounted to nearly $900,000. Both cars allegedly needed expensive repairs after sitting for so long.

In July 2015, Lynnwood police released another batch of property to the Nurs, including a Mercedes key.

Nur’s former peers in the mortgage business estimated that he would have made about $60,000 a year. He contracted with an office in Everett to process loan applications.

The office manager said that in 2006, he had been surprised to see Nur show up in a Lamborghini.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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