Criminal Justice

Lawyer agrees to plead guilty to bribing federal agents for inside information

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A California lawyer who once had a law office on Rodeo Drive has agreed to plead guilty to charges that accused him of paying more than $250,000 in bribes to federal agents in exchange for sensitive information.

The lawyer, 39-year-old Edgar Sargsyan, admitting paying bribes to special agents with Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI, according to a press release by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Los Angeles Times and Law360 have coverage.

Sargsyan also agreed to plead guilty to making false statements to investigators about the bribes and to a separate bank fraud conspiracy scheme.

Sargsyan was accused in the fraud scheme of obtaining credit cards in the names of visa holders who had left the country. Sargsyan was accused of charging more than $940,000 on the cards at two businesses that he controlled, including the Pillar Law Group.

The plea agreement said Sargsyan paid the HSI agent at least $77,000 for information from law enforcement databases. In one instance, the agent altered a database to make it more likely that a client of Sargsyan’s law firm would be allowed to enter the United States.

Sargsyan also admitted paying the FBI agent monthly cash bribes of up to $10,000 for searching databases and warning Sargsyan to stay away from targets of criminal investigations.

One of the names checked in the FBI database was that of petroleum magnate Lev Aslan Dermen, according to an affidavit cited by the Los Angeles Times. Dermen was once Sargsyan’s business partner, but now the men are “bitter enemies,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sargsyan cooperated in an investigation of a $511 million tax fraud case against Dermen, who was convicted in March for obtaining tax credits for biodiesel fuel that did not exist. Dermen wants to reopen discovery in his case on the grounds that prosecutors withheld information from him that was disclosed in Sargsyan’s plea agreement, Law360 reports.

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