Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Former FBI agent arrested for collecting bribes


A former FBI man who served more than 20 years as a special agent was arrested by federal authorities Friday near his Lafayette home after authorities said he accepted bribes for information.

Babak Broumand, 53, of Lafayette, is suspected of accepting more than $200,000 in cash bribes and gifts, authorities said. In exchange, they said, he gave out what U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Nicola Hanna said was “sensitive law enforcement information to a lawyer with ties to Armenian organized crime.”

He was charged in a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official, authorities said.

Special agents with the FBI and the Office of the Inspector General made the arrest, authorities said. Broumand is expected to make his first court appearance in federal court in San Francisco on Monday via phone from a San Francisco jail cell.

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Authorities said the complaint alleges a scheme in which the lawyer made regular bribe payments and purchased gifts for Broumand while the latter was an FBI agent assigned to the San Francisco Field Office. Broumand was working on national security matters and the development of confidential sources, authorities said.

The scheme is alleged to have started in 2015 and continued through most of 2017. Authorities said Broumand accepted approximately $10,000 in bribe payments per month. The lawyer suspected of paying him, whom authorities did not identify other than as “Cooperating Witness 1”, became a licensed attorney in 2016, authorities said.

The complaint outlines cash deposits to several bank accounts, as well as gifts that included hotels, transportation and escort services that totaled well over $200,000, authorities said.

According to an affidavit, “Broumand and (Cooperating Witness 1) conspired and agreed that Broumand would perform official acts and omit to do acts, query law enforcement databases, provide CW1 with non-public law enforcement sensitive information and protection, and assist CW1 in CW1’s efforts to evade detection by law enforcement.”

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Authorities said most of the payments were done in cash but that one payment was a $30,000 cashier’s check made payable to Love Bugs — a hair lice treatment company that Broumand owned with his wife. Broumand is suspected of using the money as part of down payment on a $1.3 million vacation home near Lake Tahoe, authorities said.

The bribery scheme started when the lawyer told Broumand about some of his illegal activity and asked Broumand if he was interested in doing “something on the side” to earn money by checking the FBI database to see if he was being investigated , the complaint alleged. Authorities said Broumand told the lawyer he had been the subject of a credit card fraud investigation, information they said would only be accessible if somebody had searched for the lawyer’s name in an FBI database.

Authorities said the lawyer later asked Broumand to look at the FBI database for details about Levon Termendzhyan, an Armenian organized crime figure for whom the lawyer had worked. That search revealed an FBI investigation in Los Angeles.

Broumand also is accused of later doing database searches on about 10 to 20 names associated with people with whom the lawyer wanted to do business, authorities said. Authorities said Broumand warned the lawyer to stay away from one person who later was arrested in a health care fraud case.

The complaint also alleges that Broumand obstructed an FBI investigation into Felix Cisneros Jr., a special agent in with the Department of Homeland Security whom authorities said had ties to Termendzhyan. A jury convicted Termendzhyan, also known as Lev Aslan Dermen, in federal court in Utah last month of charges related to a $1 billion renewable fuel tax credit fraud scheme.

Authorities believe Broumand engaged in structured cash deposits to conceal the cash bribes, failed to report income from the bribe payments and lice salon business on his federal tax returns, made false statements to the FBI and made false statements on loan applications.

He faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison if convicted.


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