An FBI agent with a taste for flashy suits and Rolex watches betrayed his badge by accepting $200,000 in bribes from a wheeler-dealer lawyer who was in bed with the Armenian mob, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Babak Broumand, who retired from the FBI in 2019 under a cloud of suspicion, was arrested near his home in California’s Bay Area and charged with repeatedly trawling through agency databases and feeding sensitive information to his criminal crony—who sold him out to save his own skin.
A probable cause affidavit unsealed this week is full of salacious allegations about the agent and lawyer’s relationship—from a Beverly Hills cigar bar and a drug-addicted royal to gifts of a Ducati motorcycle and romps with a high-priced escort.
It details a tangled web of dishonor that included other corrupt law enforcement officials—and a money-laundering pipeline between a hair salon and a lice-removal business called Love Bugs.
The saga begins in 2014 when the lawyer—who is referred to only as Cooperating Witness 1 in the court papers—says he met Broumand at the Grand Havana Room, a members-only cigar lounge in Beverly Hills, California, and invited him to a party he was hosting in Las Vegas.
“CW1 noticed that Broumand had expensive tastes in terms of his style, his interests, and his affinity for luxury goods and services,” the agent wrote in the affidavit. “CW1 noted that Broumand was wearing a gold Rolex watch and Gucci belt... CW1 saw this as an opportunity to recruit Broumand to help CW1 evade detection by law enforcement.”
The two became friendly and the lawyer confided that he was involved in criminal activity; according to prosecutors the lawyer was part of an enterprise that included members of an Armenian organized crime group and its associates, including then-Glendale Police Detective John Balian and then-Homeland Security Agent Felix Cisneros.
One day, during a discussion about FBI salaries, the lawyer asked Broumand if he would be willing to “do something on the side”—and an arrangement was born, the affidavit says.
Beginning in early 2015, Broumand—whose job was to recruit confidential informants for national security investigations—took bribes of $10,000 a month to do the lawyer’s bidding, the feds charged.
He allegedly started by searching for the lawyer’s name in an FBI database so he could warn him of any investigations. Throughout 2015 and 2016, the affidavit charges, Brouman searched up to 20 names of potential business partners in law enforcement files so he could tell the lawyer if they were under legal scrutiny or safe to make deals with.
Among the targets: a Los Angeles businessman named Levon Termendzhyan, who was convicted in Utah earlier this year of a $1 billion biodiesel tax fraud scheme.
So that the monthly bribes could not be traced, in one case, the lawyer bought a cashier’s check through a hair salon he had bankrolled, which was then deposited into Love Bugs, the lice removal service owned by Broumand and his wife, the affidavit says.
The agent used the money for a down payment on a second home in Lake Tahoe. And the court papers say Love Bugs’ credit card was used to run up tens of thousands of dollars in personal purchases at luxury purveyors like Cole European, Sonnen Porsche, Beverly Hill Watch Company, and Neiman Marcus.
But the lawyer said Broumand didn’t only get cash: He allegedly paid for rooms at the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on trips to Los Angeles and also “purchased the services of a female escort, NK, for Broumand on several occasions”—at $500 to $1,500 a session, the affidavit said.
The lawyer said he even bought Broumand a motorcycle and accessories worth $36,000 for one particularly sensitive assignment involving a member of the Qatari royal family. According to the lawyer’s account, he provided security and bought Demerol for the drug-addicted royal and was going to help him buy and insure a Lamborghini and a Porsche 911—but wanted to make sure he wasn't on a terrorist watch list. Broumand allegedly gave the lawyer the all-clear and got the two-wheeled bonus in return.
Broumand’s alleged snooping was risky—and he concocted cover stories to explain to other agents why he had looked up certain people they were investigating, such as Termendzhyan, in the databases, prosecutors said.
But the agent could also be sloppy, the court papers suggest. He gave the lawyer his FBI parking placard, and it was seized by the Burbank Police Department, drawing internal scrutiny. Around that time, the lawyer told investigators, his arrangement with Broumand began to slow down and completely ended in May 2016 because the situation was getting too hot.
Broumand allegedly talked about going into business with the lawyer, suggesting they recruit a friend who was retiring from the CIA and sell information from foreign sources he had developed for the U.S. government. In 2017, the affidavit alleged, Broumand told the lawyer he had a source who had smuggled up to $2 billion out of Libya at Moammar al-Gaddafi’s direction and wanted to use his plane to transport it, siphoning off some of it for themselves.
The affidavit notes that CW1 had lied repeatedly to agents throughout their investigation but that much of the information he provided about Broumand was corroborated by the probe. The lawyer agreed to a plea deal in which he would admit to bribing Broumand and another federal agent, in addition to other crimes.
Bailan, the Glendale detective, pleaded guilty to taking bribes from organized crime members and was sentenced to 21 months in prison last year. And Cisneros was sentenced in 2018 to a year in prison for helping a Mexican national with a criminal record to re-enter the United States and lying about it. It was not clear if Broumand has an attorney.