An attorney for an FBI agent accused of selling national security secrets to the Armenian underworld successfully argued for an emergency continuance in the blockbuster trial slated to begin Tuesday after prosecutors dropped a bombshell in disclosing its star witness, an admitted mobster, paid a colleague to take the California bar exam in his name.
Edgar Sargsyan, who ran Pillar Law Group from a Rodeo Drive office, “confessed to the prosecution team that he was never a California lawyer,” according to the motion written by Steven Gruel, who is defending former FBI agent Babak Broumand. The late Monday night admission is the latest twist in a winding case mired in Hollywood-style turnabout.
Sargsyan, a prolific political fundraiser from Calabasas who moved in tony Beverly Hills circles, paid Henrik Mosei, a former partner at Pillar Law, $20,000 a month to study for the bar exam and even procured a fake California driver’s license to present to bar officials, Gruel said. In February 2015, Mosei drove to a Sacramento bar testing location “to use the phony identification documents to fool the test’s security system,” then “intentionally smeared his fingerprint,” at the testing location, the motion states.
When Mosei passed the grueling exam, Sargsyan was so ecstatic he gave him a Rolex watch, the filing states. Months later, the duo and another partner, Art Kalantar, drove to the Bay Area to have Sargsyan sworn in as a California attorney. Sargsyan admitted to prosecutors that he said at the time, “this secret must die” with the three partners.
Sargsyan, a cooperating witness currently at the center of multiple federal prosecutions—including the convictions of a former Glendale narcotics detective and a federal Homeland Security Investigations agent, along with a sprawling billion-dollar biofuel scheme run by an Armenian crime lord and his partners in a Mormon polygamist cult—hid his California Bar fraud from the government because “he was concerned his wife would find out” he wasn’t really a lawyer.
The wild confession that came on the eve of Broumand’s federal trial also portrays the entire Pillar Law Group as a hotbed of corruption. Sargsyan pleaded guilty to running a massive credit card scheme that ran up millions of dollars in debt in the names of J-1 visa holders, but on Monday night he also admitted he was cutting his partners in on 20 percent of the profits, Gruel says.
Sargsyan also told the government his “partners misused client trust account funds by borrowing from the funds,” according to the motion.
Mosei is still practicing law in Glendale while Kalantar maintains a practice in Beverly Hills. Mosei even represented Sargsyan in a civil lawsuit brought by the reputed boss of the Armenian Mafia, Levon Termendzhyan, who claims Sargsyan, his former (phony) attorney embezzled millions of dollars and a private plane from him. Sargsyan, his lawyers say, began feathering his nest for retirement after Broumand looked up his client’s name in top secret FBI databases and learned he was at the time the target of a federal investigation. Prosecutors confirm that one of Broumand’s corrupt acts on behalf of his Armenian underworld employers was looking up Termendzhyan’s name and using it to try and pass Sargsyan off as a confidential FBI informant who was providing intel on fellow mobsters.
Messages left for Mosei and Kalantar by LAMag on Tuesday were not immediately returned. It’s unclear if Monday’s revelations will affect Sargysan’s cooperation deal with the government, but Gruel said the U.S. Attorney’s witness should be remanded into custody for his lies.
“Apparently a criminal cooperator can lie for over 5 years to the Los Angeles United States Attorney with impunity,” Gruel wrote. “Certainly the California State Bar and the California State Attorney General need to be contacted to fully investigate the admissions of state bar fraud and stolen client funds.”
Sargsyan, he adds, remains a free man and given the new criminal charges he could be facing for lying to the government he should be considered a flight risk.
Broumand’s trial is now slated to begin Sept. 20. The US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
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