A former FBI special agent was found guilty by a federal jury of conspiring to accept at least $150,000 in cash bribes and other items of value in exchange for providing sensitive law enforcement information to a corrupt lawyer with ties to Armenian organized crime.
Members of this criminal empire are largely migrants from former Soviet countries who settled in Burbank, Glendale and North Hollywood.
Babak Broumand, 56, of Lafayette, California, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, two counts of bribery of a public official, and one count of monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
Prosecutors said Broumand even offered, for a price, to remove Iranians from a no-fly list and laundered his ill-gotten cash through Love Bugs, an unlicensed lice removal salon he owned with his wife.
United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner scheduled a January 30, 2023 sentencing hearing, at which time Broumand will face statutory maximum sentences of 15 years in federal prison for each bribery count, 10 years in federal prison for each unlawful monetary transactions count, and five years in federal prison for the conspiracy count.
Judge Klausner ordered Broumand remanded into federal custody.
Broumand, an FBI special agent from January 1999 until shortly after search warrants were served on his home and businesses in 2018, was responsible for national security investigations and was assigned to the FBI Field Office in San Francisco.
According to evidence presented at his 11-day trial, from January 2015 to December 2018, Broumand accepted cash, checks, private jet flights, a Ducati motorcycle, hotel stays, escorts, meals, and other items of value from organized crime-linked lawyer Edgar Sargsyan– identified in court papers as “E.S” and each man acted to conceal the true nature of their corrupt relationship.
In return for the bribe payments and other items of value, Broumand conducted law enforcement database inquiries and used those inquiries to help Sargsyan and his associates avoid prosecution and law enforcement monitoring.
Specifically, Broumand informed Sargsyan whether a particular person or entity was under criminal investigation by stating that he should “stay away” from that person or that they were “OK.”
To conceal the nature of their corrupt relationship, Broumand made it falsely appear that Sargsyan was working as an FBI source. Broumand wrote reports after the fact to make it falsely appear that he conducted legitimate law enforcement database inquiries.
In exchange for the illegal inquiries, Sargsyan paid Broumand at least $150,000 in cash and check bribes, including a Ducati motorcycle and accessories valued at more than $36,000. The bribes were deposited into the accounts for Love Bugs LLC, a Lafayette-based lice-removal hair salon business that Broumand and his wife started in 2007.
Soon after the bribery scheme began, Sargsyan asked Broumand to query the FBI database for Levon Termendzhyan, an Armenian organized crime figure for whom the Rodeo Drive lawyer had worked.
The database search “rang all the bells” and revealed an FBI investigation in Los Angeles, according to court documents, which note that Broumand accessed the FBI case file on Termendzhyan repeatedly in January 2015. Broumand also allegedly accessed the Termendzhyan FBI case file in May 2016.
Termendzhyan, a.k.a. “Lev Aslan Dermen,” was found guilty in March 2020 in federal court in Utah on criminal charges related to a $1 billion renewable fuel tax credit fraud scheme. He awaits sentencing.
In December 2015, at Sargsyan’s request, Broumand searched a confidential FBI database for information about Sam Sarkis Solakyan, a medical imaging company CEO, and later warned the lawyer to “stay away” from Solakyan, who was “trouble,” meaning that Solakyan was under law enforcement investigation.
Solakyan eventually was charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to five years in federal prison for running a scheme that submitted more than $250 million in fraudulent claims through California’s workers’ compensation system.
In May 2016, Broumand interfered with an FBI investigation into Felix Cisneros Jr., a corrupt special agent with Homeland Security Investigations who also had ties to Termendzhyan. Cisneros was convicted at trial in two different cases.
The first trial, in 2018, resulted from Cisneros’s corrupt acts for Termendzhyan. The second trial, earlier this year, resulted from Cisneros’ corrupt acts for Sargsyan. Cisneros is scheduled for sentencing on October 17.
“Ensuring public confidence in those who investigate and enforce the law is paramount,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “By taking bribes and gifts from a person he knew was linked to organized crime, Mr. Broumand breached the public trust placed in him and violated his oath of office, something which simply cannot be tolerated. The FBI’s agents and staff work tirelessly every day to keep us safe, and I am proud that they partnered with our Office to ferret out this corruption.”
“The conviction of Mr. Broumand, a veteran FBI agent who chose greed over integrity and turned his back on the oath he swore to uphold, is proof that the FBI will root out corruption of any kind, to include veteran agents within its ranks,” said Don Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “This prosecution was the result of hard work by multiple partner agencies to work through the painful truth of having to investigate one of its own.”
“Broumand conspired with the very types of criminals he was trusted to investigate,” said Zachary Shroyer, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Los Angeles Field Office.
“All of us in law enforcement are held to a higher standard and this is no exception,” stated IRS Criminal Investigation Oakland Field Office Special Agent in Charge Mark H. Pearson. “The American public places high expectations on law enforcement to uphold and defend the law.”
The jury also found Broumand not guilty of one count of bribery of a public official and one count of monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.