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SEC sues Glendale lawyer, alleging $6 million investment scheme

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is suing a Glendale attorney, alleging that he bilked at least four “unsuspecting” investors out of $6 million through bogus investment contracts, records show.

The federal agency filed a lawsuit against Jilbert Tahmazian, claiming he violated federal security laws when he participated in a “prime bank” scheme in which he promised investors a 15% to 30% return per week on their investments in 2009 and 2010, according to the complaint.

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Instead of investing the funds, he allegedly kept a cut and distributed the rest to his co-schemer, who was not named in the lawsuit but was identified in civil court records as Vahak Dino Awadisian. Awadisian was charged in 2013 in a similar scheme in Alabama.

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According to the complaint, Tahmazian’s co-schemer allegedly spent the money on lavish purchases at Las Vegas casinos and high-end retail stores.

“The victims of the scheme lost their entire investments, with the exception of one investor who received a partial refund from Tahmazian of $100,000 from another investor’s money,” the complaint states.

The duo reportedly met in 2009 when Awadisian leased office space near Tahmazian’s law office and together “enticed investors to enter into fake ‘prime bank’ investment contracts on the promise of huge investment returns,” according to the complaint.

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Tahmazian’s attorney Nick Morgan declined to comment, other than to say, “We intend to respond to the SEC’s lawsuit in due course.”

After one of the investors sued Tahmazian in 2011, a trial court ruled that Tahmazian was a “knowing participant in the fraud” and ordered him to return nearly $1.2 million to the investor, which includes the initial investment and interest, court records show.

A representative for the SEC could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Twitter: @atchek

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