A former manager at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Glendale and two others face trial in September for their alleged roles in laundering the proceeds of a scam that targeted trademark owners.
Albert Yagubyan, 36, of Burbank, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit money laundering and other charges filed in Los Angeles federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Two Glendale men, Artashes Darbinyan and Orbel Hakobyan, were charged in January. Federal prosecutors allege that Yagubyan allowed Darbinyan, 36, and Hakobyan, 41, to open phony accounts in order to launder about $1.29 million of illicit proceeds in exchange for a cut of the action. Yagubyan was the branch manager until October 2015.
The scam operated from 2013 to 2015 when Darbinyan, using mass mailings from bogus companies called the Trademark Compliance Office and the Trademark Compliance Center, offered trademark registration and monitoring services to trademark holders who had recently registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, prosecutors allege.
For a $385 fee, the companies promised to monitor for possible infringement and send reports to the client, court records show. Instead, Darbinyan opened bogus accounts, in which he and Hakobyan deposited or cashed checks sent by the trademark holders, prosecutors allege. Darbinyan was originally charged in October with a dozen counts of mail fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
An updated indictment filed several months later charged Darbinyan and Hakobyan each with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud. Darbinyan was additionally charged with mail fraud, aggravated identity and money laundering counts.
"The Postal Inspection Service aggressively pursues mail fraud suspects as well as those that help launder ill-gotten proceeds of mail fraud," said Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss. "Our investigations won't end until all Postal Service customers, including U.S. trademark applicants, are protected."