January 10, 2012 - 12:31 AMT
Armenian faces up to 75 years in prison for felony charges in Glendale

A former Glendale man faces up to 75 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to defrauding private lenders out of more than $5 million, officials announced.

Henrik Sardariani, 44, pleaded guilty last week in U.S. District Court to five felony charges - three counts of wire fraud and one each for conspiracy and money laundering - and told authorities he had planned to use nearly $2 million routed through a Hong Kong bank account to gamble on horse races, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In May 2007, Sardariani used his home on Paseo Redondo in Burbank as collateral in a deal in which he used forged documents to show he was president of Foremost Investment Properties — the firm that had purchased the property at a foreclosure sale — to secure an $800,000-loan from Costa Mesa-based Gap Fund.

A few weeks later, Sardariani requested a $2.5-million loan from Bith LLC, based in Beverly Hills, again using the Burbank property as collateral, as well as a house on Maginn Drive in Glendale, which authorities said he owned at one point.

Sardariani claimed he was buying a hospital and needed the money to extend the escrow for 30 days so he could finish lining up the financing, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranee Katzenstein.

Sardariani promised to wire $500,000 to the lender in a few days as a loan fee and then repay the loan entirely in 30 days, Katzenstein added.

After the lender wired $2.5 million to the escrow account that Sardariani had designated, he told escrow officer Wanda Tenney to wire roughly $1.9 million to a Hong Kong bank account to pay for his horse race gambling, Katzenstein said.

Tenney, 65, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in November and is scheduled to be sentenced later this year.

Six months after the Hong Kong transfer, Sardariani secured a third $1.4-million loan from Culver City-based Money USA by using a house where he lived in Sherman Oaks as collateral. He created fraudulent property records to make it appear that at least $2.9 million in loans against the house had been paid to get the new loan secured, Katzenstein said.

In his plea agreement, Sardariani said most of the loan money went to pay family members and other debtors.

Sardariani’s brother, Hamlet Sardariani, 42, of Sylmar also faces charges for his alleged involvement in the loan fraud scheme. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial on March 6.

Henrik Sardariani, who is scheduled to be sentenced on March 26, faces a maximum sentence of 75 years in federal prison, Glendale News Press reported.