Lawyer admits to paying over $250,000 in bribes to ICE, FBI agents
A Los Angeles County-based lawyer has agreed to plead guilty to shelling out more than $250,000 in bribes to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and FBI agents over several years in return for special favors.
Edgar Sargsyan, a 39-year-old attorney with law offices in Beverly Hills, California, has agreed to plead guilty to five felony offenses, according to an ICE press release. The guilty pleas regard his involvement in a credit card bust-out scheme and hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes he gave to federal agents.
The attorney admitted to paying thousands of dollars from 2015 to 2017 to a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HS), the investigative unit of ICE, and to an FBI agent. Sargsyan doled out at least $45,000 in cash and at least $32,000 in checks to the HSI agent for assistance with immigration matters.
Such favors included the HSI agent searching law enforcement databases to illegally obtain information that he then passed over to Sargsyan. The HSI agent also tampered with a Department of Homeland Security databased to make it more likely that a foreign client of Sargsyan’s would be allowed into the U.S., and the agent procured a document with an HSI letterhead in a failed attempt to allow one of Sargsyan’s relatives from Armenia into the country.
As for the FBI agent, Sargsyan has admitted to doling out monthly bribes of up to $10,000 beginning in 2015 in return for the federal agent providing him protection. The agent, who worked out of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office, provided the Southern California lawyer with running scoops on the department’s law enforcement databases, which warned him to stay away from particular individuals who were under the purview of criminal investigations.
The FBI agent enjoyed luxury hotel stays in Southern California off of Sargsyan’s dime, accepted a $36,000 racing motorcycle as a bonus for checking on a specific individual, and also received a $30,000 cashier’s check that was attempted to look like a payment to the agent’s businesses.
ICE did not reveal the names of the HSI or FBI agents, but the agency’s references to them confirms that both are males.
The California lawyer also admitted to charging nearly $1,000,000 on credit cards in the names of visa holders who left the U.S. — a bank fraud scheme known as a “bust-out.”
Who is Edgar Sargsyan? The 39-year-old lawyer once enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle on the West Coast, according to the Los Angeles Times. He lived in a mansion in Calabasas, California and drove a Rolls Royce Phantom that got him to his law office in Rodeo Drive — a famous shopping district in Beverly Hills known for its sumptuous appearance.
Now, the high-end lawyer is reportedly bankrupt and could serve up to 50 years in prison.
Sargsyan was charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of making false statements to federal investigators, and two counts of bribing federal agents. He has been ordered to make his first court appearance on this case on June 9.
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Written by Jason Hopkins on April 29, 2020
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