As a plastic surgeon, Dr. Dino Elyassnia never shied away from the limelight, sharing his work transforming noses and necks on social media and singing the praises of his beautiful wife, Khazar Momeni.
But, this week, the arrest of her brother Nima Momeni in the killing of tech executive and Cash App creator Bob Lee forced his glamorous sister and brother-in-law into a different spotlight, with prosecutors suggesting Khazar may have had a relationship with Lee.
On Friday, as Nima Momeni made his first appearance before a judge, his sister and the surgeon arrived at the San Francisco Superior Court encircled by reporters, photographers and videographers.
Khazar Momeni turned heads. She wore oversized designer sunglasses, a black top, white trousers and a pair of light yellow pointed shoes, holding what appeared to be a clutch bag under the sleeve of a long black coat. Her husband, in a dark suit, held her hand and grimaced and sighed amid the scrum. Neither spoke to reporters, except for a brief "no comment" from Elyassnia.
Previously the subject of glitzy coverage in lifestyle magazines, the couple now find themselves near the center of a murder case, making headlines in news publications across the globe. Neither are charged in the case, but court documents indicate an argument over Khazar Momeni may have precipitated the deadly stabbing.
The Standard reached out to Elyassnia and Momeni for comment, but the couple did not respond.
Prosecutors allege that Nima Momeni questioned Lee about “inappropriate” contact with his sister and drug use before fatally stabbing him in the early morning hours of April 4.
According to court documents, one of Lee’s friends told police he did not know whether Khazar Momeni and Lee were having an intimate relationship, but that her marriage seemed to be in trouble.
That couldn’t be further from the image 45-year-old Elyassnia has painted in social media posts, comments to glamour magazines, and an interview published in the San Francisco edition of lifestyle magazine Haute Living.
Born to a family of Assyrian and Armenian ancestry in Iran, Elyassnia and his family immigrated to the United States during the Iranian Revolution. He grew up in California and attended University of Southern California Medical School, where he specialized in cosmetic surgery.
According to the Haute Living article, Elyassnia initially considered becoming a heart surgeon, inspired by two uncles who were surgeons, but later “found that he had an artistic side that would not be fully utilized as a vascular surgeon.”
He later joined the Marten Clinic of Plastic Surgery, where he currently works.
“Many people go to him for rhinoplasty,” an employee of a Bay Area plastic surgery clinic told The Standard. “He is considered very good, but expensive.”
A receptionist at the Marten Clinic told The Standard that the cost of a nose job starts at $18,000.
On his professional website, Elyassnia described his practice as a "sanctuary for beauty, aesthetic balance and age-defying technology."
Until the arrest of her brother, Khazar Momeni remained a distinctly lower-profile figure than her husband. Still, she did appear in the lifestyle magazine article and Elyassnia’s social media.
Momeni was also born in Iran and came to the United States as a child. She married Elyassnia in 2013.
In 2020, Elyassnia sang her praises to Haute Living: “She packs bags for the homeless, and she’s taken me shopping for gifts for underprivileged families. She has been my guiding light. And I am so thankful for her.”
He also showered her with praise in an Instagram post reflecting on the first year of the Covid pandemic.
“Spending three months isolated together, around the clock, gave me a whole new perspective on what an amazing human being she is,” Elyassnia wrote. “Not only is she better than me in every way, but she is truly gifted when it comes to understanding the human condition which translates into an unbelievable level of kindness and generosity to others.”
He wasn’t the only one who praised her.
Iranian American restaurateur Hoss Zaré said Momeni used to come to the Fly Trap, the restaurant he owned in San Francisco from 2008 to 2016. She would come in with friends for a night out and would ask to give compliments to the chef, so they began following each other on Instagram.
“She was always pleasant, complimentary,” Zaré said. “A lot of Iranians, they come over there; they party, go out. She was always nice.”
But the couple’s relationship may have been more complicated than Elyassnia’s interviews and social media would suggest.
A man interviewed by The Standard described matching with Khazar Momeni on a dating app in 2019. He said he later met up with her and her brother at a bar and eventually visited her home.
“They were very nice, super social people,” he said.
He said he was flabbergasted to hear Nima Momeni was charged in the killing of Lee.
“I’m shocked because he was such a nice guy.”
Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at email@example.com