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Maria Gabriela Hashemipour, LA-Area Salon Owner, Pleads Guilty To Scamming Celebrity CLients

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LOS ANGELES — The owner of a Beverly Hills beauty salon has agreed to plead guilty to using credit card information from celebrity clients without their knowledge to ring up bogus charges, according to court documents.

Maria Gabriela Hashemipour, 51, agreed to plead guilty to one count of access device fraud and could face up to 10 years in prison. She was scheduled to enter her plea in U.S. District Court on Friday. As part of her agreement, federal prosecutors will drop 40 other counts.

Hashemipour may also face a fine of up to $250,000 and must pay full restitution to her clients estimated to be no higher than $1 million.

"My client accepts full responsibility for the mistakes she has made, despite the fact that her actions caused minimal if any actual monetary loss," said defense attorney Nina Marino. "She trusts in the court to decide the appropriate consequences given all the circumstances."

Hashemipour was arrested in August at her business, Chez Gabriela Studio. Her website said her clientele includes Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry and Cher.

Two of actress Liv Tyler's credit cards had about $214,000 in fraudulent charges from the studio over a five-month period last year, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

The case came to the attention of investigators after jewelry designer Loree Rodkin's attorney said about $68,000 had been charged to her credit card from Hashemipour's studio without her authorization. Hashemipour offered $25,000 worth of products in exchange for the charges, but Rodkin refused, the affidavit said.

Rodkin also told authorities she knew of other clients, such as Anne Hathaway, who had similar charges on their credit card, the affidavit said. The indictment shows that in July 2009 there was more than $16,000 in charges to the American Express card of a victim identified only as "A.H." Prosecutors declined to release names of other victims.

Hashemipour also could be deported as part of her deal. The indictment filed against her said she was born in Mexico, not in Spain as she had claimed, and she had fraudulently obtained a U.S. passport.

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