Los Angeles-area lawyer agrees to plead guilty to a string of crimes, including paying bribes to ICE HSI and FBI special agents
LOS ANGELES – A Calabasas man has agreed to plead guilty to five federal offenses – one related to a credit card bust-out scheme, and the others related to more than $250,000 in bribes he paid to two federal agents for assistance that included sensitive law enforcement information.
Edgar Sargsyan, 39, an attorney with law offices in Beverly Hills, was charged today with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of bribing a public official, and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. In a plea agreement also filed today in U.S. District Court, Sargsyan agreed to plead guilty to the five felony counts, which cumulatively carry a statutory maximum penalty of 50 years in federal prison.
In the plea agreement, Sargsyan admitted paying tens of thousands of dollars from the beginning of 2015 through early 2017 to a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This matter was investigated by the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, which includes agents from HSI, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Secret Service, the Glendale Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Health Care Services. The Los Angeles Police Department provided substantial assistance.
Sargsyan paid the HSI agent at least $32,000 in checks and at least $45,000 to $50,000 in cash in return for assistance that included the HSI agent searching law enforcement databases to corruptly obtain information that he passed to Sargsyan, according to the plea agreement. The HSI agent also altered a Department of Homeland Security database to make it more likely that a foreign national who was a client of Sargsyan’s law firm would be allowed to enter the United States. In another corrupt act detailed in the plea agreement, the HSI agent prepared a document on HSI letterhead in an unsuccessful attempt to have one of Sargsyan’s relatives from Armenia admitted into the United States.
Sargsyan also admitted he paid the FBI agent monthly cash bribes of up to $10,000 beginning in 2015 in exchange for the agent providing protection, which included running queries on law enforcement databases and warning Sargsyan to stay away from certain individuals who were the targets of criminal investigations. The agent, who worked out of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office, accepted the cash payments on trips to Southern California, where he stayed at luxury hotels that were paid for by Sargsyan. The FBI agent also accepted from Sargsyan a $36,000 racing motorcycle as a bonus for running database checks on a particular person. Sargsyan also gave the FBI agent a $30,000 cashier’s check that was made to appear to be a payment to the agent’s business, according to court documents.
Sargsyan also agreed to plead guilty to two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. These charges stem from interviews in September 2017 by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, when Sargsyan falsely stated that the $30,000 check to the FBI agent was a loan, and in December 2018, when he falsely told special agents with the FBI and HSI that he did not pay bribes to the FBI agent.
In his plea agreement, Sargsyan also admitted he participated in a conspiracy that defrauded financial institutions by fraudulently obtaining credit cards in the names of aliens 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.
Sargsyan has been directed to make his initial court appearance in this case June 9.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Major Frauds Section and Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.