A former Wells Fargo bank manager pleaded guilty Monday for his part in a money laundering, tax fraud and identity theft scheme that led to $14 million in bogus tax refunds, federal prosecutors said.
Hakop Zakaryan, 34, of Glendale pleaded guilty in a Santa Ana federal courtroom. His sentencing date is Nov. 18.
Zakaryan pleaded guilty to a felony count of bank fraud. At his job as bank manager in Glendale he would use his authority to unfreeze bank accounts suspended as a result of suspected fraud, prosecutors said.
Zakaryan's cohorts were using stolen identities and paid him thousands of dollars in cash to unfreeze the bank accounts, prosecutors said. In one of the transactions, Zakaryan took about $3,000 to unfreeze one bank account so his cohorts could withdraw $29,453, prosecutors said.
The scheme involved using bogus identities and fake Armenian passports to open hundreds of bank accounts used to launder money received through fraudulent tax returns, prosecutors said.
The investigation has led to charges against 18 defendants and involved about 7,000 fraudulent tax returns seeking about $38 million in refunds, prosecutors said. Twelve people have been convicted.