The FBI agent on trial facing allegations related to moonlighting as protection for the Los Angeles Armenian Mafia mumbled “motherf—er” under his breath in court on Wednesday, fingering a black Greek rosary as the government’s star witness—the phony Rodeo Drive attorney and admitted mobster, Edgar Sargsyan—took the stand on the second day of the blockbuster trial.
Sargsyan, an admitted conman and credit card crook who ran a scheme that made him “hundreds of thousands, a lot of money,” told the court today that “most of the money I would make was on credit card fraud.” He didn’t make eye contact with the defendant, former FBI special agent Babak Broumand, who is charged with six counts of corruption and bribery. But Babak mean-mugged him as he left the stand for a brief break in testimony—marking the first time the accused had seen the man he allegedly funneled government secrets to for years since Sargsyan began cooperating with the government in 2018.
The two men formed what prosecutors call a criminal partnership in 2014 over cigars at the ultra-exclusive Beverly Hills cigar bar the Grand Havana Room. Sargsyan’s law firm partner, Henrik Mosesi, had attended law school with Broumand and the two were “close friends,” he told the court, so a meeting was set up at the club.
“He was an FBI agent, and I was involved in criminal activity,” Sargsyan testified. “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.”
Months later, their friendship was cemented with a three-day weekend in Las Vegas that the men dubbed “Operation Reno” to hide the wild drug-fueled sex romp from their wives that unfolded at a rented party house where, Sargsyan said, the FBI agent enjoyed the services of an escort and watched as professional sex workers “were doing cocaine all over the place, partying.”
Broumand’s wife was in the Little Tokyo courtroom as Sargsyan described the girls that filled the “party house” and testified that the former FBI agent told him he slept with one of the women “and was happy…she liked him.”
“A lot of factors came into play that developed our relationship,” Sargsyan told the court regarding Broumand, who listened on, glowering from the defense table. “That was one of them. It was illegal activity—as an FBI agent, he didn’t care about it. He was comfortable. He didn’t react in a negative way.”
After Operation Reno, Broumand became part of a jet-setting, hard-partying crowd that included a man Sargsyan called his mentor, Levon Termendzhyan, who is better known in underworld circles as The Lion. Federal investigators call him the boss of the Armenian Mafia, a charge his attorney, Mark Geragos, deems “racist hyperbole.”
Sargsyan told the court that he was afraid of Termendzhyan and that he was a man capable of terrifying outbursts and violence. He recalled that on another trip to Vegas, one of Termendzhyan’s dinner guests got “out of line,” so the host pulled a gun. Sargsyan testified that Termendzhyan had corrupt cops on his payroll—namely, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Felix Cisneros and Glendale Detective John Saro Balian.
Sargsyan testified that he figured Broumand could report directly to him.
Sargsyan’s cooperation with government officials has already sent Cisneros and Balian to prison. He has also testified before a grand jury in Utah investigating a billion-dollar biofuel scam pulled off by Termendzhyan and his partners in the so-called Kingston Clan, a polygamist cult that is also known as The Order.
An investigation into the biofuel scam led to the arrest of Termendzhyan and Kingston Clan members in 2018. Termendzhyan was found guilty in March 2020 and is still awaiting sentencing. Sargsyan’s testimony was expected to continue throughout Wednesday, in a case that is being closely monitored by Setara Qassim of the law firm Geragos and Geragos.
Qassim has indicated that she plans to file a motion for a new trial based partly on bombshell confessions Sargsyan made this month that he had not shared with prosecutors when he made his 2018 plea deal. This includes a bombshell admission that he was never an attorney and, in fact, had paid Mosesi—the FBI agent’s law school friend and his Pillar Law Group partner—a $20,000 monthly fee to study for the California Bar Exam and with a fake ID and a plan to smudge his fingerprints, take the grueling exam in his name; when he passed, Sargsyan gave him a Rolex as a cherry on top.
“Sargsyan testified in court today that he testified for the prosecution in Utah in the grand jury, where he also perjured himself,” Qassim, who said she is currently preparing the motion, told LAMag.
Malaina Broumand, who said she socialized with Sargsyan and his wife, Alina, told LAMag at the courthouse that despite the seedy details in the testimony about Operation Reno and the federal indictment she’s been hit with after her husband’s alleged scheming was discovered, she remains steadfast in her support of her husband.
“I love him,” Malaina Broumand said. “He’s a good man.”