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Nima Momeni: Who is the tech executive arrested for murder of Cash App founder Bob Lee?

Nima Momeni has been charged with the murder, according to county jail records

Bevan Hurley,Gustaf Kilander
Sunday 16 April 2023 07:55 BST
Bob Lee's ex-wife confirms arrest in tech exec's homicide

Police in San Francisco arrested tech executive Nima Momeni on Thursday for the fatal stabbing of Cash App founder Bob Lee.

Mr Momeni, 38, allegedly stabbed the 43-year-old after being involved in an altercation while driving in San Francisco’s Rincon Hill early on 4 April.

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott confirmed Mr Momeni had been charged with one count of murder at a press conference on Thursday.

The suspect was arrested without incident at an address in Emeryville, a city in the Bay Area, early on Thursday.

The Mission Local news site was the first to report the arrest, and said that the pair were known to each other.

Booking records from the San Francisco County jail show that Mr Momeni was booked in on a murder charge at 9.19am on Thursday.

The arrest was earlier confirmed by Lee’s ex-wife Krista, his brother Tim Oliver Lee, and city officials on Thursday.

Who is Nima Momeni?

According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr Momeni lives in Emeryville, in the Bay Area, and is the owner of Expand IT.

Expand IT describes itself as a “one-stop technology and security provider” for enterprise software companies.

The Independent’s calls to Expand IT went unanswered on Thursday morning.

Tech executive Nima Momeni, 38, has reportedly been arrested for the fatal stabbing of Bob Lee (Linkedin)

Mr Momeni said on the profile that he had worked as a “dedicated technology partner” supporting clients in healthcare, finance, and startups at several tech firms in the Bay Area and San Jose.

He attended the University of California, Berkeley, and is fluent in English and Farsi, the profile states, but a university spokesperson told The San Franisco Chronicle that they have no record of anyone attending under his name.

Other educational instutions listed by Mr Momeni include Laney College and Vista College.

He began his IT career in 2005, initially as a network engineer at Marfic Technologies, and subsequently at Coast Range Technologies, according to The Chronicle.

He worked as a consultant for a number of years before launching Expand IT in 2010.

A search of property records showed Mr Momeni owns an apartment at 4053 Harlan St in Emeryville that he purchased for $525,000 in 2020.

Mr Momeni was arrested at the address in Emeryville at around 5am on 13 April.

Shocked residents reported seeing a large number of police officers outside the address, according to KCBS.

Nima Momeni owns an apartment in this building in Emeryville, California, property records show (Zillow)

On the night before Lee’s death, a woman entered the building where Mr Momeni lived at 2.30am and began screaming his name, residents told The Los Angeles Times.

The woman left when neighbours threatened to phone police, according to posts on a building social media group. It’s unclear if this incident was connected to Lee’s death.

Sam Singer, a San Francisco area PR executive, had an office next to the suspected killer and said the arrest had come as a shock.

Mr Singer described Mr Momeni as a “very nice, welcoming guy” in comments to KTVU.

Mr Singer was invited into Mr Momeni’s home, telling The Chronicle that he found Mr Momeni to be “warm”. Afterwards, Mr Momeni handed Mr Singer some business cards, offering his services.

Mr Momeni had resided in California for much of the past 20 years at addresses in downtown San Francisco, Emeryville and San Jose.

A family friend of Lee said he and Mr Momeni were hanging out in the hours leading up to Lee’s death, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. They may have met via Mr Momeni’s sister, whom Lee had recently met.

Akash Sawhney met Mr Momeni when he hired him in 2015 at a start-up.

“I was completely taken aback,” he said about the news of Mr Momeni’s arrest. “It didn’t seem in character with what he’s accused of doing, at least in my interactions with him.”

Mr Momeni was “super helpful,” Mr Sawhney said of their time together at the company. “I didn’t see any signs of anger, any red flags, at that point.”

Mr Sawhney said Mr Momeni was Zoroastrian – part of an ancient monotheistic religion with its roots in Iran.

A family friend told the outlet that Mr Momeni came to the US from Iran with his mother some time after the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Some Zoroastrians fled persecution and settled in India, where Mr Sawhney grew up. Mr Momeni had appeared grateful for speaking to someone who was aware of his faith, Mr Sawhney said, according to The Chronicle.

One person speaking to The Chronicle, who requested to remain anonymous, said Mr Momeni came to his home on the night of Lee’s death and asked for alcohol. It was unclear if this took place before or after Lee was stabbed.

A neighbour told Forbes that Mr Momeni had asked if they wanted to join him on a trip to Colombia, and others said he was an entrepreneur who worked late nights and liked boats, cars, and women.

Neighbours told The Daily Beast that Mr Momeni was also interested in knives and guns.

Police haven’t said if they obtained any weapons when they searched his property.

Mr Momeni had a criminal record before being accused of murder. In 2011, he was charged in Alameda County with selling a switchblade knife and driving with a suspended licence, according to The Chronicle. The knife charge was dismissed and he pled no contest to the driving offence.

He was sentenced to 10 days behind bars and three years probation, a $900 fine, and he was ordered to destroy the knife. He was also charged with drunk driving in 2004.

In 2017, the IRS told him to provide $18,433 in unpaid taxes, and $32,014 in 2011.

What do we know about Bob Lee’s final moments?

Lee had been a high-profile member of the San Francisco tech community prior to relocating to Miami late last year.

The former chief technology officer for mobile payments giant Square had returned to his former hometown for a MobileCoin tech conference when he was killed.

According to the Mission Local, police believe Lee and the suspect had been in a car together in the early hours of 4 April when a fight broke out between the pair.

Citing police sources, the news site alleges that the tech executive stabbed Lee twice outside the vehicle, and responding officers recovered a knife nearby.

Bob Lee, known to his friends as ‘Crazy Bob’, was knifed to death in central San Francisco early on Tuesday morning (Twitter / Bob Lee)

Lee’s murder was seized on by high-profile members of San Francisco’s tech community including Elon Musk as another example of the city’s drug-fueled crime epidemic.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Matt Dorsey said he was “grateful” to the city’s homicide division for “their tireless work to bring Bob Lee’s killer to justice and for their arrest of a suspect this morning” in a Twitter post.

“Obviously, nothing can undo this senseless crime, and we reiterate our condolences to Mr. Lee’s family members, friends and colleagues. But I hope today’s arrest can begin a process of healing and closure for all those touched by this tragedy,” he added.

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