RIVERSIDE, CA—A Glendale man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for orchestrating a loan fraud scheme that netted him and his associates well over $5 million in less than eight months.
Henrik Sardariani, 44, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who also ordered the defendant to pay $5.422 million in restitution to his victims and a $100,000 criminal fine.
Sardariani previously admitted that he had defrauded private money lenders by falsely assuring them that the loans they were making were safe when, in fact, he had no intention of paying the loans back and did not own the properties he had pledged as collateral.
In determining the sentence, Judge Phillips noted the complexity of Sardariani’s criminal conduct, which included creating false real estate documents with cut-and-paste notarizations and falsifying government records to hide problems in Sardariani’s background that would have raised red flags for the lenders. A victim who spoke at yesterday’s sentencing hearing summed up Sardariani’s crimes as robberies with fake documents instead of a gun.
Henrik Sardariani has been in custody since December 21, 2010, when he and his brother, Hamlet Sardariani, 42, were arrested by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation. Hamlet Sardariani pleaded guilty in June (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2012/078.html).
Henrik Sardariani pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy, wire fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, admitting that he falsified numerous documents to obtain more than $5 million in loans. To obtain one of the loans, Sardariani fraudulently claimed to be the president of the company that actually owned a property used as collateral, and he created false corporate records to maintain that pretense. Sardariani also admitted that he had created fraudulent property records to make it appear to the lenders that prior loans secured by the properties had been paid off and that, therefore, the new loans being made by the victim lenders were fully secured. The fraudulent reconveyances bore forged and fraudulent signatures of notaries public and fraudulent stamps of the notaries public.
Sardariani also admitted that in relation to another loan, he falsely told the lender that the loan was needed only briefly to extend a pre-existing escrow related to the purchase of a hospital and would be returned to the victim-lender at the close of the pre-existing escrow less than one month later. In fact, as Sardariani admitted, he did not intend to use the loan proceeds in connection with the purchase of a hospital, nor did he intend to leave the money untouched in the escrow account. Sardariani used the loan proceeds to place bets on horse races. After the lender wired $2.5 million to the escrow account that Sardariani had designated, Sardariani instructed the escrow officer to wire the funds to a Hong Kong bank account to fund the gambling. The escrow officer, Wanda Tenney, who was also charged in the case, pleaded guilty to conspiracy on November 30, 2011. Sardariani’s gambling partner, Christopher Woods, who was charged with money laundering in a related case, has also pleaded guilty.