A former FBI agent based out of the bureau’s San Francisco office was found guilty Monday of taking bribes from a lawyer linked to an Armenian organized crime unit in exchange for handing over “sensitive law enforcement” information, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Babak Broumand, who was an FBI agent from 1999 to 2018, took roughly $150,000 in cash, private jet flights, hotel stays, escorts and even a Ducati as bribes for helping the lawyer’s mafia clients avoid law enforcement monitoring and prosecution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The bribes were handed over from 2015 to 2018.
The verdict came down in the Central District of California, and federal law enforcement was prompt in pointing out that the case was an example of its commitment to seeking out corrupt law enforcement officers.
“Ensuring public confidence in those who investigate and enforce the law is paramount,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada. “By taking bribes and gifts from a person he knew was linked to organized crime, Mr. Broumand breached the public trust placed in him and violated his oath of office, something which simply cannot be tolerated.”
Broumand concealed his relationship with the unnamed lawyer by pretending he was a confidential source, according to filings. The agent wrote false reports to make his illegal database searches on behalf of the lawyer and his organized crime clients look legitimate.
In 2015, Broumand was asked by the lawyer to access the FBI file and search databases for Levon Termendzhyan, aka Lev Aslan Dermen. The U.S. Attorney's Office described Termendzhyan as an Armenian organized crime figure who was convicted in federal court in Utah in 2020 for his part in a $1 billion biodiesel tax credit fraud scheme.
Broumand also looked into a number of other cases on behalf of the same lawyer.
In one case, the agent looked at the confidential FBI file of Sam Sarkis, who was under investigation for defrauding the State of California of $250 million in workers' compensation claims. Broumand warned the lawyer to stay away from Sarkis as he was under investigation.
In 2016, the agent looked into the investigation of a corrupt special agent with Homeland Security. That agent had ties to Termendzhyan and was found guilty in two cases, one of which was linked to Termendzhyan.
Fifty-six-year-old Broumand was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, two counts of bribery of a public official and one count of monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“We’re disappointed with the verdict but not defeated. Two criminal counts were dismissed by the Jury. Significantly, the jury refused to forfeit Mr. Broumand’s $2.5M Tahoe house to the government," said Steven Gruel, counsel for Broumand, in a statement. "We look forward to the appeal on the 4 guilty counts.”
Broumand, who retired in 2019, is set to be sentenced Jan. 30, 2023, and faces up to 40 years in federal prison. He remains in custody.
Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org