A father drowned his two autistic sons by driving his car off a California pier - so he could cash in on a $6m (£4.7m) insurance policy, prosecutors have alleged.
Ali Elmezayen, 44, motored his Honda into the Port Of Los Angeles water, killing eight year-old Adbelkarim and Elhassan, 13. Neither of the boys could swim.
His long-term partner, Rabab Diab, was also in the vehicle but was rescued by a fisherman while screaming: “my kids, my kids”.
“Witnesses heard the tyres of the car screech loudly and saw the car accelerate before it flew off the edge of the wharf, crashed into the water and immediately sunk,” FBI agent Matthew Parker wrote in an affidavit, as reported by the New York Post.
Elmezayen – who is said to have left his driver-side window open so he could escape the plunge – had earlier spent some $6,000 (£4,700) on an insurance policy for himself, Ms Diab and their three sons.
Federal investigators say he repeatedly called the insurance company to ensure it would not automatically probe a claim made more than two years after the policy was written. The incident occurred on 9 April 2015 – two years and 12 days after the policy took effect.
Elmezayen collected more than $260,000 (£202,000) in pay-outs for his sons’ deaths and wired more than $170,000 back to his native Egypt, prosecutors say.
He has repeatedly told investigators the crash was an accident and questioned the safety of the car – even attempting to sue Honda at one point.
The Los Angeles County district attorney previously said there was not enough evidence to bring murder charges against Elmezayen, who was in the US illegally having outstayed his visa.
A police mechanic found the brake pedal of the Honda did not work properly, although he concluded that may have been down to salt corrosion caused by the accident. County prosecutors also said the father’s explanation of the tragedy could create reasonable doubt in the minds of a jury.
Instead, federal investigators arrested him for suspected insurance fraud. At a hearing on Tuesday, he was held without bail after Judge Alka Sagar ruled he lacked credibility, and called the incident a “ghastly scheme to obtain insurance benefits.”