A former U.S. Department of Homeland Security deportation officer was sentenced Friday to 15 months in federal prison for orchestrating a series of cash withdrawals and deposits aimed at hiding assets from his estranged wife during divorce proceedings.
Vardan Keshishyan, 50, of Glendale, began maneuvering nearly $100,000 out of his bank accounts shortly after his wife filed for divorce, all in an effort to convince the court he only had $1,000 in assets, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
He was convicted in September of two federal counts of structuring of currency transactions to evade reporting requirements.
According to prosecutors, in January 2015, Keshishyan deposited about $96,000 from the sale of the home he shared with his then-wife into a bank account he controlled. He then withdrew $99,400 from his bank accounts by making 11 cash withdrawals of about $9,000 — each falling just shy of the bank’s mandatory reporting requirements for cash transactions above $10,000.
During one attempted withdrawal, however, a bank manager warned Keshishyan that it was a crime to break up a cash transaction greater than $10,000 into smaller amounts to evade the bank’s reporting requirements, prosecutors said.
When the bank manager told Keshishyan that he planned to file a report to comply with federal law, the defendant canceled the transaction, prosecutors said. But he continued making the structured transactions elsewhere.
Once he had emptied his accounts, Keshishyan lied under oath at a June 2015 divorce court hearing, saying he had lost $95,000 of the home sale proceeds, in part, through a bad investment, prosecutors said.
Upon learning about Keshishyan’s structured withdrawals, the court warned him that his financial activities were “not permitted,” according to evidence presented in Los Angeles federal court.
But prosecutors said Keshishyan was undaunted, and continued to sneak the money back into his accounts. Once the divorce caser was settled, he maneuvered $99,000 back into his bank accounts. In 2016 and 2017, he visited multiple banks, sometimes just minutes apart, to make 11 cash deposits of $9,000 each, evidence showed.
Prosecutors said he tried to conceal his actions by utilizing bank branches across the county, using multiple accounts and multiple banks.