Thursday, October 29, 2020

Los-Angeles lawyer agrees to plead guilty to bribing federal agents

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An attorney with law offices in Beverly Hills agreed Tuesday to plead guilty to five federal offenses, including bribing two federal agents for assistance in obtaining sensitive law enforcement information.

Edgar Sargsyan, 39, of Calabasas, was charged with two counts of bribing a public official, two counts of making false statements to federal investigators and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In a plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court, Sargsyan admitted to paying tens of thousands of dollars between 2015-2017 to a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations and a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Sargsyan paid the HSI agent at least $32,000 in checks and at least $45,000 in cash in return for assistance that included the HSI agent searching law enforcement databases to obtain information that he then passed to Sargsyan, according to the document.

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According to court documents, the HSI agent also altered a United States Department of Homeland Security database to make it “more likely” that a client of Sargsyan’s law firm, who was a foreign national, would be allowed to enter the country.

The plea agreement also stated that the HSI agent prepared a document on HSI letterhead in an unsuccessful attempt to have one of Sargsyan’s relatives admitted into the U.S.

Sargsyan also admitted to paying the FBI agent monthly cash bribes of up to $10,000 starting in 2015 in exchange for “protection,” which included running queries on law enforcement databases and warning Sargsyan about people who were the targets of criminal investigations, according to the plea agreement.

Federal prosecutors allege that the FBI agent, who worked at the San Francisco field office, accepted the payments on trips to Southern California where he stayed at luxury hotel rooms paid for by Sargsyan. The FBI agent also allegedly accepted from Sargsyan a $36,000 racing motorcycle as a “bonus” for running database checks on a particular person.

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Sargsyan also admitted to giving the FBI agent a $30,000 cashier’s check made to look like it was a payment to the agent’s business, court documents said.

Sargsyan also agreed to plead guilty to two counts of making false statements to federal investigators and to participating in a conspiracy that defrauded financial institutions by fraudulently obtaining credit cards in the names of non-nationals who had previously been in the United States on J1 visitor visas.

Once the credit cards were issued by the financial institutions, Sargsyan and his co-conspirator charged “purchases,” including more than $941,000 that Sargsyan personally charged at two businesses he controlled, Pillar Law Group and Regdalin Group, prosecutors allege.

The five felony counts carry a maximum total penalty of up to 50 years in federal prison. Sargsyan is scheduled to make his first court appearance in downtown Los Angeles June 9.

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