A two-week trial filled with tantalizing testimony about crooked cops, political shindigs with California’s governor, drug-fueled sex romps at a Vegas party house and lavish Beverly Hills dinners ended Tuesday with a jury in Little Tokyo finding former FBI agent Babak Broumand guilty of selling his top-secret security access to the L.A. Armenian underworld.
Broumand’s slight body began to tremble as a court clerk read guilty verdicts in four of the six counts of corruption and bribery prosecutors leveled against the 20-year FBI veteran. He was once assigned to the national security division as a HUMINT agent, where his job involved recruiting human sources in an effort to prevent terrorism. While performing those duties, the jury found, Broumand was recruited by admitted Armenian mob figure and career conman Edgar Sargsyan as a bought-and-paid-for badge; soon, he was paid $10,000 a month, given a Ducati motorcycle, and enjoyed the services of high-priced sex workers.
Broumand’s face reddened and his head swiveled behind him to his wife, Maliana, who watched as the attorney and now disgraced agent slid Greek prayer bracelets off his left wrist and removed his wedding ring. The same jury that found him guilty of corruption and bribery convened in a separate forfeiture trial centered on a $2 million Lake Tahoe house, which federal prosecutors said was purchased in part by bribe money. The jury ruled against the government and let Broumand’s family keep his interest in the waterfront house. Soon, Maliana Broumand is set to face her own trial over money laundering charges for the purchase of the $2 million home.
Still, the guilty verdicts in the criminal case was a win for the prosecution team and should send a message, said Assistant United States Attorney Ruth Pinkel: “If you are corrupt, we will find you.”
Broumand testified last week that his job was to “hide in plain sight” as a member of the FBI’s clandestine counterterrorism forces. Prosecutors successfully argued that he used that same technique to hide the “little something on the side” he was doing for Sargsyan— running names through FBI databases and agreeing to procure Demerol for bad boy Qatari Sheikh Khalid al-Thani, the brother of the country’s emir, through a DEA source.
When Sargsyan took the stand, Broumand muttered “mother-f-er,” under his breath while massaging the Greek rosary wrapped around his left hand. “He was an FBI agent, and I was involved in criminal activity,” Sargsyan told the jury. “I wanted someone of his caliber to be next to me for protection…if there was any investigation on me, he could shield or block.”
Sargsyan, a political background player with two sprawling estates in Calabasas, a fleet of supercars, and a history of donating tens of thousands to Gov. Gavin Newsom and Senate President Kevin de Leon and hosting fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, confessed on the eve of trial that he deceived the California State Bar and was not, in fact, a lawyer at all. Instead, he told his federal handlers, he paid his partner in his Beverly Hills practice, Pillar Law Group, $20,000 a month to study for the California State Bar exam. Henrik Mosesi took the grueling test with a fake California driver’s license displaying Sargsyan’s photo in Feb. 2016. When Mosesi passed the Bar, Sargsyan said he gave him a Rolex as a reward.
Sargsyan said that he didn’t tell his handlers about his Bar Exam scam because “he didn’t want his wife to find out he wasn’t a lawyer.” The State Bar told LAMag the allegations are “serious” but declined to comment on whether Mosesi and another partner in the Rodeo Drive firm, Art Kalantar, could face disbarment like their former partner. Sargsyan has pleaded guilty to a plethora of federal charges, including running an identity theft credit card scheme that earned him millions out of his Pillar Law Group while cutting his partners in on the profit.
Sargsyan’s testimony has already helped in convicting a slew of his former friends, including Homeland Security Investigations Agent Felix Cisneros Jr, Glendale Detective John Balian, and the reputed boss of the Armenian Mafia, Levon Termendzhyan—who was convicted in an international biofuel scheme pulled off with members of the Kingston Clan, a polygamist Mormon empire in Utah.
Mosesi had attended law school with Broumand. He introduced the FBI agent into Sargsyan’s criminal circle over cigars at the ultra-exclusive celebrity-filled smokers’ lounge, the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills. The jury agreed with prosecutors who told the court that in 2015 that relationship became corrupt, as Broumand used his top-secret security clearance to protect his new mob man pal for an exchange of money and lavish gifts.
There was an agreed-upon $10,000 in cash—which Broumand would launder through Love Bugs, a lice removal salon he owned with his wife. Then there was the $36,000 Ducati Broumand he received when he ran a check of FBI databases on Sheikh al-Thani to “see if he was a terrorist;” Sargsyan was so happy he bought him the motorcycle from a Beverly Hills dealer as a thank you. This was all in addition to the times Sargsyan hosted Broumand at five-star hotels all over Beverly Hills and treated him to boozy meals at the best L.A. eateries.
Broumand was also suspected, but not convicted, of using FBI intelligence to eventually entice the Armenian Mafia into joining him on a would-be treasure hunt for the purported millions stashed away by Muammar Gaddafi ahead of the Arab Spring and the Libyan leader’s killing.
Broumand’s attorney, Steven Gruel, said on Tuesday that his client will appeal the verdict, adding: “I am disappointed but not defeated.”
Broumand was all smiles as he left the Little Tokyo courthouse on Monday awaiting today’s verdict announcement, confident as he strode off clutching his wife’s hand. But today, the scene was one of tears and hugs as a U.S. Marshal asked Broumand to remove his designer tie, belt, and the contents of his pockets and hand the belongings to his wife.
U.S. District Court Justice Gary Klauser ordered Broumand to be taken into custody until his sentencing hearing slated to be held on Jan. 30. As the marshals led Broumand away, Gruel handed the agents two bottles of medication for his client’s heart.