Tech consultant charged in killing of Cash App founder Lee

Apr 13, 2023, 9:35 AM | Updated: 3:30 pm

Flowers sit at a tree in front of the building where a technology executive was fatally stabbed out...

Flowers sit at a tree in front of the building where a technology executive was fatally stabbed outside of in San Francisco, Thursday, April 6, 2023. Details of how tech executive Bob Lee came to be fatally stabbed in downtown San Francisco early Tuesday were scarce as friends and family continued to mourn the man they called brilliant, kind and unlike others in the industry. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A tech consultant was arrested and charged with murder Thursday in the stabbing death of the gregarious and popular Cash App founder Bob Lee last week in downtown San Francisco, authorities said.

Nima Momeni, 38, and Lee, 43, knew each other, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said at a news conference, but he declined to elaborate on their connection. Momeni was taken into custody Thursday morning in Emeryville, a San Francisco suburb, and booked on suspicion of murder.

The stabbing death of Lee shocked the tech industry, with friends and former colleagues mourning the demise of a brilliant and generous man. Police found Lee with stab wounds in the Rincon Hill neighborhood of San Francisco at 2:30 a.m. April 4. He died at a hospital.

Scott declined to give details on how they linked the killing to Momeni. The chief also refused to disclose a possible motive. Investigators served search warrants in San Francisco and Emeryville. Scott would not say whether a weapon has been found.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement that Momeni has been charged with murder in Lee’s death and is expected to be arraigned Friday. Prosecutors will ask a judge to hold him without bail, she said.

It was not immediately clear whether Momeni has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

On his LinkedIn profile, Momeni describes himself as an “IT Consultant/Entrepreneur” as well as the owner of a company called Expand IT. Business filings with the state list Momeni as the chief executive officer, secretary and chief financial officer of Expand IT INC, described as an information technology consulting business. He signed the filing in August 2022.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Momeni has been “a dedicated technology partner since 2005” and that he started Expand IT in 2010.

Criminal records show Momeni was charged with carrying a switchblade in 2011, a misdemeanor offense. The case was dismissed the following year after he took a plea.

Publicist Sam Singer met Momeni about a month ago as Singer has an office next door to Momeni’s live-work loft in the stylish Besler Building Lofts. Singer described Momeni as “very welcoming, warm” and his loft as a “typical Bay Area technology consultant’s office” with a big pool table, gourmet food and high-end stereo system.

Lee is known for creating the widely used mobile payment service Cash App while working as chief technology officer of the payment company Square, now known as Block. He was the chief product officer for the cryptocurrency firm MobileCoin at the time of his death.

Lee was raised in Missouri and had recently moved to Miami with his father, but was back in San Francisco for business when he was killed. Friends described him as adventurous and fearless, and a doting father to his two children.

“I acknowledge and understand how the loss of a young, vibrant leader and innovator has rocked our city and even beyond,” Jenkins said at the news conference.

Lee’s brother, Tim Oliver Lee, posted on Facebook the family’s gratitude to the San Francisco Police Department for catching the suspect. Tim Lee said his brother dreamed of making technology accessible to all and that he made friends from all walks of life.

“Bob loved being in San Francisco, and San Francisco loved Bob. Walking down the street would sometimes be difficult because every young person with a dream would search him out, and he would make time for every one,” his brother wrote.

After Lee’s killing, prominent tech leaders, including tech billionaire Elon Musk, took to Twitter to mourn Lee’s death and blame San Francisco for what they called the city’s lax attitude toward crime.

Musk tweeted at Jenkins, saying that crime in San Francisco is “horrific” and that even when attackers are caught, they are often immediately released.

Mayor London Breed and other top city officials have pushed against that narrative and on Thursday, Jenkins addressed Musk directly.

“I must point out that reckless and irresponsible statements like those contained in Mr. Musk tweet that assumed incorrect circumstances about Mr. Lee’s death serve to mislead the world in their perceptions of San Francisco,” Jenkins said.

___

Stefanie Dazio contributed from Los Angeles.

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Tech consultant charged in killing of Cash App founder Lee