A retired FBI agent arrested Friday near his home in Lafayette accepted more than more than $200,000 in cash bribes and gifts in exchange for funneling sensitive information to Armenian organized crime, federal prosecutors said.
Babak Broumand, who retired from the FBI last year after 20 years as a special agent, was arrested by special agents with the FBI and Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.
Broumand was charged in a criminal complaint Tuesday in United States District Court in Los Angeles, with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official.
Federal officials said a contact with the Armenian mob allegedly made regular bribe payments to Broumand and gave him expensive gifts, while he was assigned to the San Francisco FBI Field Office working on national security matters and the development of confidential sources.
The alleged scheme started in early 2015 and continued through most of 2017, according to a release from the Department of Justice.
Broumand allegedly accepted bribe payments averaging approximately $10,000 per month, paid by a man who became a licensed lawyer in 2016. The criminal complaint refers to the lawyer as CW1, or cooperating witness 1.
Cash deposits were made to several banks accounts, as well as various gifts, including hotels, transportation and escort services, that totaled over $200,000, federal officials said.
"Broumand and CW1 conspired and agreed that Broumand would perform official acts and omit to do acts, query law enforcement databases, provide CW1 with non-public law enforcement sensitive information and protection, and assist CW1 in CW1's efforts to evade detection by law enforcement," according to the affidavit in support of the complaint.
One bribe payment was a $30,000 cashier's check made payable to a company called Love Bugs, a hair lice treatment business that Broumand owned with his wife, the complaint alleges. Federal officials said Broumand used the money, which he later attempted to falsely characterize alternatively as a boat sale or a loan, as part of a down payment on a $1.3 million vacation home near Lake Tahoe.
"Our nation is based on the premise that public officials - especially federal law enforcement officials - place the country and her people above their own self-interest. This former FBI agent stands accused of violating this sacred trust by providing help to criminals simply to fund his lavish lifestyle," said United States Attorney Nick Hanna.
CW1 met Broumand at a private cigar lounge in Beverly Hills in fall 2014 and later that year CW1 invited the FBI agent to a party he was hosting at a rented house in Las Vegas.
The affidavit states that CW1 noticed Broumand's "expensive tastes…and his affinity for luxury goods and services," including the Rolex watch and Gucci belt that he was wearing, and saw it as an opportunity to recruit the FBI agent.
In 2015, CW1 told Broumand that he was engaged in criminal activity and asked the agent if he was interested in doing "something on the side." Broumand accepted and CW1 then began paying Broumand approximately $10,000 per month "for information and protection," the complaint states.
CW1 initially asked Broumand to search for his name in an FBI database and to "defuse" any law enforcement interest in him, the complaint alleges. In return, Broumand allegedly informed CW1 that he had been the subject of an FBI investigation into credit card fraud in 2008 or 2009 -- something that would only be known if Broumand had searched for CW1 in a law enforcement database.
CW1 also allegedly asked Broumand to query the FBI database for Levon Termendzhyan, an Armenian organized crime figure for whom CW1 had worked. The database search revealed an FBI investigation in Los Angeles, according to the affidavit, which notes that Broumand accessed the FBI case file on Termendzhyan repeatedly in January 2015. Broumand also allegedly accessed the Termendzhyan FBI case file in May 2016.
Termendzhyan, who is also known as Lev Aslan Dermen, was convicted last month in federal court in Salt Lake City on charges related to a $1 billion renewable fuel tax credit fraud scheme.
After providing information on another client to ensure that person was not involved in terrorist activities, CW1 purchased a Ducati motorcycle and accessories valued at $36,000 for Broumand as a "bonus," according to the affidavit.
In exchange, Broumand allegedly queried between 10 and 20 names provided by CW1 because CW1 was going to engage in legal or illegal business with them. Broumand warned CW1 to "stay away from" a person who also was a member of the cigar lounge, and this information was validated when that person was arrested in a health care fraud case, according to the affidavit.
The complaint also alleges that Broumand obstructed an FBI investigation into Felix Cisneros Jr., a corrupt special agent with Homeland Security Investigations who also had ties to Termendzhyan.
Broumand allegedly also engaged in structured cash deposits to conceal the cash bribes, failed to report income from both the bribe payments and the lice salon business on his federal tax returns, made false statements to the FBI, and made false statements on loan applications.
Broumand is set to make an appearance by phone from jail on Monday in federal court in San Francisco. The conspiracy charge alleged in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
An ongoing investigation into Broumand is underway, by the FBI, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, and IRS Criminal Investigation.