Glendale Man Sentenced to Over 7 Years in Federal Prison for Running $14 Million Ponzi Scheme – 04 August, 2009 – A Glendale man was sentenced today to 87 months in federal prison for orchestrating a $14 million Ponzi scheme, one of the three frauds that led him to plead guilty in three separate cases earlier this year.

Antoine David Haroutunian, 47, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Percy Anderson in relation to the Ponzi scheme. In addition to the prison term, Judge Anderson ordered Haroutunian to pay nearly $10.7 in restitution, including an initial payment of more than $850,000 that is due immediately.

In imposing the 87-month sentence, Judge Anderson said that Haroutunian was worse than a thief. “A pickpocket doesn’t know the people he is stealing from,” Judge Anderson said, but Haroutunian “was a financial predator who had no compunction going back over and over to victims he knows.”

From June 2005 through August 2008, Haroutunian solicited investor funds
through his companies, Luminous Wealth Management and Luminous Management, promising 24 percent annual returns. When he pleaded guilty, Haroutunian acknowledged that he used written materials and in-person meetings to solicit potential investors, who were told that Luminous held investments in commercial bridge loans, U.S. government-guaranteed loans, options and real estate investment trusts. In reality, Haroutunian made almost no investments, instead using victims’ funds to make Ponzi payments to other victim-investors; to fund cash payments to himself; to fund his other business ventures; and to make payments to his associates in Los Angeles, New York and Armenia. Haroutunian solicited investors through advertisements placed in the Los Angeles Times and on the Internet. In September 2006, the California Department of Corporations issued two desist and refrain orders that enjoined Haroutunian “from offering or selling or buying or offering to buy any security in the State of California.” Haroutunian ignored these orders while continuing to operate his investment scam that led to approximately $10 million in losses.

In a separate case, Haroutunian pleaded guilty in relation to a 2003 scheme he ran while employed as a customer service representative at Bank of America.

Haroutunian used his account-access privileges to obtain customer account information that he and his associates used to withdraw funds from accounts without authorization. Haroutunian also admitted that he and his associates made unauthorized transfers from accounts by fraudulently writing checks on the accounts to themselves, their creditors and others. As a result of the conduct in this case, Bank of America suffered losses of more than $460,000. Haroutunian is scheduled to be sentenced in this case next Monday by United States District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank, although he is expected to receive a sentence that will run concurrently to the 87-month sentence.

In a third case, Haroutunian pleaded guilty to tax fraud. By pleading guilty in the tax case, Haroutunian admitted that in 2004 he fraudulently obtained a federal tax refund of $183,345 that was based on fictitious gambling winnings and losses he falsely claimed on his personal tax return. Haroutunian is scheduled to be sentenced in this case next Monday by United States District Judge George H. Wu, who is also expected to issue a sentence to run concurrently with the 87-month sentence.
The three cases against Haroutunian were investigated by IRS-Criminal
Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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