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Source: US State of California

          LOS ANGELES – A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer was arrested today on federal “structuring” charges alleging that he made cash withdrawals and deposits totaling nearly $100,000 designed to circumvent federal reporting requirements and also to conceal assets from his then-wife, who was divorcing him.

          Vardan Keshishyan, 47, of Glendale, has been charged in a federal grand jury indictment with two felony counts of structuring of currency transactions to evade reporting requirements. He is expected to appear in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles to be arraigned on the charges later today.

          According to the indictment, in January 2015, Keshishyan deposited approximately $96,369 into a bank account he solely owned and controlled. That amount was the proceeds of the sale of the home he shared with his then-wife, who had filed for divorce two months earlier, according to the indictment.

          In January and February of 2015, Keshishyan allegedly made 11 cash withdrawals, each of approximately $9,000, and ultimately totaling $99,400. During one attempted withdrawal, a bank manager warned him that it is a crime to break up a transaction into small amounts to evade the $10,000 reporting requirement mandated by federal law, the indictment alleges. After the manager informed Keshishyan that the bank would have to file a report to comply with federal law, he allegedly cancelled the transaction and instead went to a different bank branch the same day to withdraw $9,000 in cash.

          The indictment further alleges that Keshishyan lied under oath to the judge at a June 2015 court hearing in his divorce case, falsely telling the court he had lost $95,000 of the family home sale proceeds, in part, through a bad investment. The court also told Keshishyan that the government “investigate[s]” repeated withdrawals of cash and warned him that transactions above $10,000 generate an “automatic notification.”

          Despite these admonishments from the court and the bank manager’s prior warning to Keshishyan about structuring being a crime, Keshishyan allegedly structured $99,000 back into his bank accounts as soon as his divorce was nearly final. On August 19, 2016, just one day after Keshishyan and his then-wife had reached an agreement regarding the terms of their divorce, Keshishyan deposited $9,000 in cash into a bank account that he controlled, the indictment alleges. In January 2017, the month after final judgment was entered in the divorce, Keshishyan allegedly made 10 more cash deposits – each of approximately $9,000 – into two bank accounts that he controlled.

          If convicted on both counts, Keshishyan would face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

          An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

          This matter was investigated by Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General.

          This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lindsey Greer Dotson of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.

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