City Council member Kevin de Leon isn’t just hiding from angry Angelenos demanding his resignation after he was caught slamming a white colleague’s Black child as an “accessory” in the secret audio recording of a closed-door gerrymandering session with his colleagues. The councilman is also ducking questions about the hot money his campaigns took from an admitted Armenian mobster while his power at City Hall is being decimated.
On Monday, acting City Council President Mitch O’Farrell announced he will remove de León and Councilman Gil Cedillo from their committee assignments. De León chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee and Cedillo chairs the Housing Committee. Each council member must be appointed to at least one committee; O’Farrell is now working out details on how this will work for the two men, he announced today. But there’s other bad news from de Leon’s past that emerged days before the leaked audio swiftly led to the City Council’s implosion.
Edgar Sargsyan, a prolific fundraiser who according to campaign finance records from opensecrets.org, donated nearly $400,000 in dirty money to Democratic campaigns since 2014—including de Leon’s election bid. Sargsyan most recently held a courtroom captive as the government’s star witness in the bribery and corruption trial of former FBI agent Babak Broumand, who was convicted in L.A.’s U.S. District Court on Oct. 4.
Broumand’s conviction marks the third dirty law enforcement official Sargsyan has helped the government put away since he began cooperating with the FBI in 2017. His deal keeps him out of prison but it did not stop him from donating dark money to campaigns for de Leon and Governor Gavin Newsom.
“I love politics,” Sargsyan testified when grilled about a series of photos he took with political giants such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton; Newsom; and then-Senate President Kevin de Leon.
The de Leon photo, which was placed in the politico’s Sacramento office, came to be during a trip Sargsyan took with his Pillar Law Group partners in 2016 to celebrate the passing of the California Bar—ostensibly by Sargsyan. But that was just another scam he was running.
On the eve of Broumand’s trial, Sargsyan confessed to paying one of those partners, Henrik Mosesi, $20,000 a month to study for the California Bar Exam in 2015. Mosesi, he testified, helped him become a lawyer “by false means,” when he took the exam in February 2016 with a counterfeit driver’s license, and smudged fingerprints at a Sacramento testing site.
Sargsyan testified that he drove to Sacramento with Mosesi and a second partner, Art Kalantar, to celebrate his entry into the California bar with a visit to his “old friend” and a guy he “knew from the past”—Kevin de Leon. He had a private meeting with de Leon in his Sacramento Senate office, where the gangland lawyer and the most powerful member of the Senate snapped a selfie. At the time, de Leon oversaw the Senate Rules Committee.
The money he donated, Sargsyan admitted on the stand in Broumand’s trial, came from long-running identity theft and credit card “bust out” scheme that ran up millions of dollars in debt in the names of J-1 visa holders who’d left the US. Sargsyan boasted he “made a lot of money” with the fraud—enough that he owned two sprawling Calabasas estates, two private jets, and drove around in an Escalade, Bentley, or Rolls Royce.
Mosesi pleaded the fifth in the accused FBI agent’s trial but he is not entirely off the hook yet. Sargsyan told the court he was cutting his law partners in on a cut of the credit card cash he was stealing hand over fist, allegations that have caught the attention of California Bar overseers. For now, Mosesi continues to practice law in Glendale and Kalantar is also practicing, according to the State Bar of California’s website.
Pete Brown, a taxpayer-funded spokesman for de Leon, has ignored repeated phone calls and emails from LAMag. The City Council member, who has steadfastly refused the unrelenting calls for his resignation, has had round-the-clock protests outside his Eagle Rock home since the recordings made at labor leader Ron Herrera’s office were leaked.
Not long after the mobster met with the then-Senate president, then-Lieutenant Governor Newsom’s security detail shut down S. Rodeo Drive to have lunch with Sargsyan, which the phony lawyer bragged about in a text to the crooked FBI agent on his payroll. In fact, Broumand and two other convicted dirty law enforcement officials—former Glendale detective John Balian and Homeland Security Investigations Agent Felix Cisneros—partied with Newsom at the ultra-exclusive members-only Beverly Hills cigar bar the Grand Havana Room, according to photos entered into evidence in the FBI agent’s trial by his attorney Steven Gruel.
Newsom, when contacted about Sargsyan cash by LAMag, vowed to donate the funds to legal representation charities.