Sylmar Brothers Arrested in Loan Fraud Case That Collected Over $5 Million in Only Eight Months
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 21, 2010|
LOS ANGELES—Two brothers were taken into federal custody this morning on charges that they bilked private lenders out of more than $5 million by pledging as collateral properties they did not own and fabricating numerous documents to support their false claims.
Henrik Sardariani, 42, and his brother, Hamlet Sardariani, 40, both of Sylmar, were arrested without incident at the Coral Tree restaurant in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles this morning by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS - Criminal Investigation. The Sardarianis are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court.
A federal grand jury indicted the Sardarianis on Friday, charging them with conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud, six counts of unlawful monetary transactions, and five counts of identity theft. According to the indictment, which was unsealed after their arrests this morning, the Sardarianis used their fraudulent scheme to obtain well over $5 million from the victim lenders in under eight months.
The indictment alleges that, to obtain the loans on several properties, the Sardarianis created fraudulent deeds of trust, corporate records and other documents to make it appear that they held title to the properties. The brothers allegedly fabricated fraudulent reconveyances to create the false impression that the other loans on the properties had been paid off and that there was sufficient equity to secure the loans. The fraudulent reconveyances bore forged signatures and fraudulent stamps of notaries public, according to the indictment which further alleges that the Sardariani brothers and a co-conspirator presented these fraudulent reconveyances to title companies and victim lenders.
In order to obtain one of the loans, Henrik Sardariani allegedly falsely represented that the loan was needed for less than one month so he could extend a pre-existing escrow and that the money would be returned to the lender at the close of the pre-existing escrow. Sardariani allegedly promised that the money would never leave escrow and that the victim would receive a substantial payment when the loan proceeds were deposited into the pre-existing escrow. However, according to the indictment, after the victim wired $2.5 million to the escrow account, Henrik Sardariani arranged for $1.9 million of the money to be wired to an account in Hong Kong.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
If convicted of all of the charges in the indictment, each of the Sardariani brothers would face a maximum statutory penalty of 115 years in federal prison, plus at least two additional years for the aggravated identity theft charges.
The case against the Sardarianis was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS - Criminal Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Ranee A. Katzenstein
Major Frauds Section