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Tuesday, Mar 5, 2024

Local Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Bribing FBI, ICE

A Calabasas lawyer has pleaded guilty to federal charges including bribing agents from the FBI and ICE to provide protection for him and to obtain sensitive information. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Edgar Sargsyan, 39, on Tuesday was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of bribing a public official and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. The five felony counts carry a maximum penalty of 50 years in federal prison. Sargsyan admitted paying a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations 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. 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 Beverly Hills law firm would be allowed to enter the United States, according to the DOJ. Sargsyan also admitted he paid an 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 individuals who were the targets of criminal investigations. The agent, who worked out of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office, accepted the payments on trips to Southern California, where he stayed at luxury hotels paid by Sargsyan. According to the DOJ, 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 admitted he fraudulently obtained credit cards in the names of aliens who had previously been in the United States on visitor visas, according to the DOJ. With those cards, Sargsyan charged more than $941,000 at two businesses he controlled, Pillar Law Group and Regdalin Group. The agents were not named in the plea agreement. But authorities last week charged former FBI Agent Babak Broumand with conspiracy to commit bribery, accusing him of accepting cash and gifts from a Los Angeles-area lawyer. According to the Washington Times, “the details of the two cases appear to match up – particularly the allegation that Sargsyan paid $36,000 at a Ducati dealership for a motorcycle and accessories for the FBI agent. The same purchase shows up in the criminal information filed against Broumand.” Sargsyan also agreed to plead guilty to two counts of making false statements to federal agents, which allegedly occurred during the investigation. Sargsyan, according to the Los Angeles Times, once led a sumptuous lifestyle with his law office on Rodeo Drive, a mansion in Calabasas and a Rolls Royce Phantom.

Charles Crumpley
Charles Crumpley
Charles Crumpley has been the editor and publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal since March 2016. In June 2021, it was named the best business journal of its size in the country – the fourth time in the last 5 years it won that honor. Crumpley was named best columnist – also for the fourth time in the last 5 years. He serves on two business-supporting boards and has won awards for his civic involvement. Crumpley, a former newspaper reporter, won several national awards and fellowships for his work, and he was a Fulbright scholar to Japan.

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