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Former Glendale man sentenced for $5-million fraud scheme

His brother and an escrow officer also are ensnared in the 'sophisticated and complex' crime.

August 28, 2012|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

A former Glendale man was sentenced Monday to 10 years in federal prison for scheming to defraud private lenders of more than $5 million, officials said.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips also ordered the man, 44-year-old Henrik Sardariani, to pay $5.4 million to the victims of his scheme and also to pay a $100,000 fine, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Henrik Sardariani pleaded guilty in January to five felony counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering for organizing the loan-fraud scheme. His plea implicated his 42-year-old brother, Hamlet Sardariani. His brother, a Sylmar resident, pleaded guilty to similar charges.

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The scheme was “sophisticated and complex,” said Assistant U.S. Atty. Ranee Katzenstein.

Phillips enhanced Henrik Sardariani's sentence because his scheme was so sophisticated that he had created bogus government records to mask “problems” in his background and produced fake “real estate documents with cut-and-paste notarizations,” according to authorities.

Henrik Sardariani allegedly admitted that he borrowed money from lenders and didn't plan to pay them back, even though he promised them the loans were safe.

He told investigators that he used the loans to gamble on horse races, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

One of Henrik Sardariani's victims spoke during the sentencing and explained that he worked for the money that was defrauded from him and his family, and “in a day it was gone,” he said.

He lent $2.5 million in May 2007 to Henrik Sardariani, who used his home on Paseo Redondo in Burbank as collateral, as well as a house on Maginn Drive in Glendale.

He had previously used the Burbank property as collateral to secure an $800,000 loan from a Costa Mesa-based Gap Fund. During that deal, authorities said he used forged documents to show he was president of a firm — Foremost Investment Properties — that bought the property at a foreclosure sale.

He claimed he was buying a hospital and needed funding to extend the escrow for 30 days.

But instead of repaying the loan, he allegedly told an escrow officer, Wanda Tenney, to wire nearly $2 million to a Hong Kong account, which he planned to use for gambling, authorities said.

Hamlet Sardariani is expected to be sentenced Sept. 10. Tenney, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 15.

Follow Veronica on Google+ and Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA

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