Geragos Sues Yeghiayan Alleging Fraud in Genocide Survivor Settlements

Geragos (left) is pictured here with Phil Angelides, Brian Kabateck and Vartkes Yeghiayan (far right)

LOS ANGELES—Attorneys Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck filed a law suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court Friday, alleging their one-time partners in the Genocide survivor insurance settlement case, Vartkes Yeghiayan and Rita Mahdessian defrauded the community by diverting settlement funds to fictitious charities, reported the Daily Journal Monday.

The suit alleges that the funds were to be donated to existing community organizations, as mandated by the ruling on two class action law suits in Los Angles federal court that sought life insurance money for family and descendants of the Armenian Genocide survivors and victims.

In the lawsuit, Geragos and Kabateck are alleging that Yeghiayan and Mahdessian misappropriated some $1 million slated for Armenian community organization in what is known as a cy pres settlement—funds that are to be distributed to charity instead of individuals.

One such organization cited in the lawsuit goes by the name of Coservatoire de la Memoire Armenienne, which the suit alleges is listed at a non-existent address on Avenue des Champs Elysee. The Daily Journal reported that the charity received $300,000 out of the $3 million settlement money earmarked for community organizations in the original lawsuit. This sum was earmarked to be distributed to France-based Armenian organizations to be allocated to educational programs to assist the needy.

“It’s extremely disturbing,” Geragos told the Daily Journal, while Kabateck said he was “personally disgusted.”

Yeghiayan denied the allegations made in the lawsuit in an interview with the Daily Journal, adding that Geragos and Kabatech were “pissed off” because they were left “out of” other Genocide settlement cases.

In discussing the case with the Daily Journal, Yeghiayan accused Geragos and Kabateck of “hoarding more than $17 million,” reported the Daily Journal.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. The cases in question were against New York Life and other insurance companies and were settled in 2004 and 2005.

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  1. Rich said:

    So Yeghiayan’s excuse is , “hey they hoarded more than 17 million dollars, why don’t I hoard 1 million for myself.?!? hahahaha Goes to show the only way to disperse donation money properly is to do the leg work yourself. No middle man, because that’s where the shady zones are.

  2. Mary Bella said:

    Don’t believe everything you read. The truth as to who the real frauds are in this case will come out soon enough. It definitely is not Vartkes Yeghiayan.

    • Aram said:

      This would be the American greed that is different from the Armenian greed that has defrauded the US government of $162 million in a Medicare fraud scheme, or the Armenian Power greed skimming off credit cards of the poor?

      • Random Armenian said:

        They submitted 100+ million in claims and got back $34 million. Still bad but the figures are wrong.

      • Christo said:

        Don’t worry about that, you should concern yourself regarding Bernie Madoff’s, Michael Milken’s, the Jonathan Pollard’s. That’s chump change. While you’re at it pick up a book titled RED MAFIA.

      • Christo said:

        That US attorney who indicted those individuals was honored by the Armenian Bar Association a week prior to his cronies arresting those individuals. Every indictment from the US attorney’s office is a political move, stop drinking so much Kool Aid! Just because they were indicted doesn’t mean they are guilty. What would be interesting is to see how many of those Armenian attorney’s will be representing those individuals after meeting that US attorney. There are criminals in every segment of our society, why are you so concerned regarding some Armenians, so what if they are Armenian’s. If you are so concerned about your tax dollars, why don’t you cry foul for every penny that was given in aid to all those dictators from south American to the end of this planet for the past 80+ years.

  3. Aram said:

    It is high time for everyone to shed the “Ottoman in them.”

    Stop disgracing our genocided and scattered nation for personal and/or partisan gain!


  4. Hratch Tchaghatzbanian said:

    This is disgusting. This is the reason why many people in the community fully keep themselves away from taking part in the Armenian Movement. IF these allegations turn out to be true, these people should literally be crucified! They have turned the most horrific event in modern Armenian history into a business. Sick!
    (I REALLY REALLY hope that we find out that the allegations are simply a misunderstanding).

  5. Sergik said:

    That’s what we needed, two Armenians going against each other. Turks are laughing now!

  6. Nubar Costantian said:

    You know what’s disgusting is that we are washing our dirty cloths in a PUBLIC Laundromat. We are making our enemies extremely happy. When are we going to “wake up”.

    • Aram said:

      We need to air all our dirty laundry and grow up. This is the world stage. We should act like responsible citizens. Get your mind out of the ghetto.

  7. Peter Musurlian said:

    Either the Coservatoire de la Memoire Armenienne exists or it does not exist. And, if it does not exist, it was either listed by Yeghiayan or it was not.

    Whatever the truth is, it is a stain upon the community. In so many ways, it is much worse than a couple of hundred gang-bangers and medicare cheats.

    These are our elite, fighting for something that couldn’t be more high-minded. So much for that.

    I won’t JUMP to any conclusions though. For now, I will SIT in the corner and shake my head.

    • Rostom said:

      The “conservatoire de la mémoire arménienne” has an address, but no activities whatsoever.
      It has a foolish website, just google it and you will find it.
      As for its address, this is the one of an Armenian man recently indicted for procuring. You can find the address by googling “journal officiel” and “conservatoire de la mémoire arménienne”

  8. Patrick said:

    Innocent until proven guilty. How about everyone stop writing messages of hate and anger and wait for the case to be settled in court. Only then can your anger be justified. Mostly in these cases, there isn’t only one perpetrator. Everyone take a deep breath, and relax.

  9. Gagik said:

    I will withhold any judgment until all the details are clear. Let’s all hope that these are just misunderstandings.

  10. Tsoler said:

    I’m disgusted i really don’t know what to say
    I’m totally out of speech
    & let’s hope this is all a huge horrible misunderstanding.

  11. Garen said:

    What a sh*t show. Whoever is guilty should be forced to walk 500 miles in the Nevada desert to atone for their disrespect of our martyrs’ memory.

  12. Pingback: Attorney Mark Geragos brings lawsuit alledging fraud | Armenian Sources Genocide History Poetry Food Music Human Rights Issues

  13. said:

    I’m very surprised! I thought that corruption only exists in the Republic of Armenia… At list this is what people who read this site regularly would think.

    But you know what, it makes me think now that most of these allegations of corruption against the leadership of the Republic of Armenia, no matter how true, come from American critics “who are “pissed off” because they were left “out of.”

    I think Armenia is much better off without the “ethical” Americans like these low-yers trying to participate in the political life of a country without living there and paying taxes. At least people who lead Armenia were elected and fought in the war, unlike these clowns.

    • Hratch Tchaghatzbanian said:

      Very funny statement on your part. First and foremost, corruption is everywhere. And wherever there is more money, there is more corruption. Accordingly, America is probably the most corrupt country in the world, and anybody who knows anything about Washington probably agrees. HOWEVER, when we complain about corruption in Armenia, we are complaining because there is no truly independent judicial system that punishes people even when they get caught! (Finally, we are starting to see very few examples of this happening).
      As for not having a voice without paying taxes… are you serious? If paying taxes were a prerequisite for having a political voice in Armenia… then all the government building would be empty, wouldn’t they?

  14. George Casen said:

    There was always a lack of transparency related to these cases. I have papers on New York Life letterhead attesting to the fact that my grandfather’s policy was for 20,000 French francs but New York Life reported that the policy was for only 2,000 French francs. This inconsistency was never adequately resolved. This pales in comparison to the loss of life of my great-grandparents and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, hardships my grandmothers and parents endured and the confiscation of a massive fortune by he Turkish government. I have always felt however, that there was something going on between the attorneys and New York Life that was not quite right.

  15. zareh said:

    Geragos would not file a non-meritorious lawsuit against his previous partner. I am certain that the lawsuit is the culmination of multiple attempts by the Geragos firm to locate the “misappropriated funds”. Yeghiayan and Mahdessian(his wife)could have simply asserted and established the location of the funds in question and the “misunderstanding” would have been understood.
    Having said that this lawsuit will certainly be used by our common enemy, The Turkish Republic to show to the world that the pursuit of Genocide recognition by Armenians is solely a business endeavor by few lawyers whose main interest is to fill their pockets.
    If the allegations turn out to be truthful then Yeghiayan and Mahdessian would be considered traitors and should be excommunicated from Armenian society and be disgraced till eternity.

    • Hagop said:

      Yeghiayan started the Armenian Students Association in Berkeley in 1954 and has had several books published about the Armenian Genocide. I think this article is favoring Geragos here when he can easily be the fraud…

  16. Eric said:

    As co-counsel in the case, shouldn’t Geragos and Kabatek have done due diligence on an organization that was to receive a $300,000 payout? Perhaps they were too busy counting their attorneys’ fees.

  17. Vatche Dakessian said:

    Read it with awe, disgust and disbelief. Brings to mind an old Armenian saying which I prefer not to quote here. Impossible to take sides in such an issue. It is a lose lose situation for Armenians all over the world whatever ending the lawsuit may eventually have. A total disgrace to the sacred memory of the martyrs of our genocide.

  18. Jeffrey Jones said:

    First Cafesjian v. Hovnanian and now this! What’s next? The Diocese suing the Prelacy?

  19. John said:

    Don’t worry. It will work out. Armenians are not perfect, not does anyone expect us to be.

    I do know that Yeghiayan is thoroughly Armenian from way back, suing on Armenians’ behalf before any other lawyer else had the idea or courage to do so.

    I don’t think any – any – other lawyer has his record.

    • nana said:

      The choir of disappointed, naive and crystal-honest people. How many of you will consider risking comfort of your day for a purpose extremely non-popular and heavily targeted by enemies? Leave these few professional lawyers to handle the problem professionally. When the truth will emerge, start screaming and displaying your anger and hatred.

      “Aram says and HebardHigh replies” combination simply wants to hear: Hpart Hay. What kind of fraud is that?

  20. Reality said:

    Both of them have profited from crimes against humanity. Moral and upright attorneys would have donated everything to charity and kept $0 for themselves. Every dog has its day. How do these sell-outs sleep at night. I hope they read this and suddenly wake up and realize that they are a cross-bread between leeches and vultures.

    • Mary Bella said:

      And I suppose you would work entirely for free as well right? Well let me tell you the real REALITY of a class action lawsuit. These attorneys take them on contingency, meaning they take all the costs of it early on, including filing fees, travel costs (as the plaintiffs often live all over the country), employee salaries and wages, copies, etc, etc and only get reimbursed for their costs and make their living IF the lawsuit settles. Couple that with the fact that these lawsuits take years!! This is not something that is resolved in a day, so imagine, they actually don’t make a dime from this unless it settles, possibly years down the line.They take no money from any of the plaintiffs whether as a retainer or otherwise and only in the event that they win, do they actually get money, to you know, um, LIVE! These lawsuits are very often a long shot because the events occurred so long ago it is hard to get an American court involved, so many dont do it. You should commend the fact that some of these lawyers are willing to lose much more than they gain for the sheer fact of bringing our cause out into the light and getting even the slightest reparations.

    • Mary Bella said:

      Its so easy to make jokes like that. but how soon we forget that lawyers are responsible for some of the greatest, most ground breaking decisions in history. Do names like Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v Arizona, or Roe v Wade mean anything to you? You get excited when these settlements happen and the people get the money they deserve, but who do you think takes these cases that are often a long shot, and often on contingency and work hours and hours so that the people can have their justice. The lawyers.

  21. Khosrov H. said:

    Obviously a sad development. It’s best not to pass judgment before all facts are known. A Google search shows that Vartkes Yeghiayan has been pursuing Armenian Genocide cases for over 25 years, and thoughout he never asked for a penny from his clients nor Armenian Groups. Filing over a dozen historical cases needs a lot of legwork in different cities. He did it. If it was an easy thing, why didn’t anybody else do it for the past decades? Now, unfortunately, I have to go back to the Japan meltdown. Sad days…

  22. jack said:

    what else is new shame on all of you .cafesjian sues hriar hovnanian, giragos sues vartkes never ends.good luck armenian people with our great trust worthy leaders

  23. Hrair Kaladjian said:

    I worked on these cases with Vartkes 10 years ago. All of these cases, the research, the planning originate from him. I was the one who drafted the complaint against AXA insurance. As President of the Armenian Law Students Association at Southwestern, I organized one of the very first speaker events on the New York Life lawsuit. Brian Kabateck came in as associate counsel because of his insurance bad faith litigation experience (through his Greek associate who had an Armenian wife), and then Varkes and I brought in Mark because Brian tried to kick Vartkes out so that he would be the lead counsel on the basis of his experience in insurance cases. We approached Mark in desperation to replace Brian, but he didn’t. Rather, he became associate counsel in order for him to “control” Brian. I then left the picture because a lot of crazy things were happening, including the involvement of a Jewish lawyer (the 4th ‘co-counsel’ on the basis he had 1 client) and his “investigator” who threatened me to force a settlement on the lead Plaintiff Martin Marootian when Varkes was out of the country. Thereafter, for the last 10 years, per my occasional review of news, Mark and Brian appeared to be working on all other types of cases (i.e., Michael Jackson, etc…)
    All of the ideas of these lawsuits: extension in the deadline for the statute of limitation, New York Life, the Equitable, AXA, Deutche Bank, etc……are Vartkes’ ideas. He is the son of a genocide survivor; he helped translate the transcripts from the Soghomon Tehlirian trial; he is very knowledgeable about the Armenian Genocide, and lastly, he is, if I’m calculating correctly, 75 years old.
    As for me, I was basically volunteering to help Vartkes when nobody else cared about these cases just when I first became licensed as an attorney.
    As far as I’m concerned, Vartkes is no thief. He is a dedicated Armenian. If there was any issue, be it truthful or imagined, this should have been handled behind closed doors to avoid any embarrassment to our culture. Unfortunately, as is the case of any lawsuit, when money is at issue, things get nasty.

    Hrair Kaladjian, Esq.

    • Garen said:


      I take it that Mr. Yeghiaian might be a true patriot. But what would be your position if the allegations of misappropriating money through fictitious charities turn out to be true?

      • Hrair Kaladjian said:

        Garen, then I would be upset. However, there needs to be full disclosure after investigation before anybody comes to that conclusion. That investigation could have, and should have, happened behind closed doors……and not out in the public for odars to use to their advantage.

        • Tamar Shahabian said:

          Although this whole situation is very sad and I wish it didn’t have to come to this, I am comforted by the comments of people like Hrair who actually know what they are talking about. I too worked for Vartkes, but for a much shorter time and very recently (before I started law school in the fall). I worked on most of those cases listed above, as well as the Center for Armenian Remembrance website – specifically the 1915 club, which is an amazing resource for our community. Anyone who has spent any time with Vartkes knows how devoted he is to justice for the victims and decedents of the Armenian Genocide, and that he would NEVER misuse funds intended for our community at large. I can only hope this lawsuit will force the truth to come out, and clear Vartkes’ name so that his lifelong work on behalf of Armenians does not get discredited. I wish other people had the chance to know Vartkes because then they would know that he is the type of person our community so needs – a person with original ideas, who actually sees the ideas through and brings results to our community, without ever asking for credit or glory. There are very few like him left.

  24. Grish Begian said:

    Armenians needs more honest and less corrupt individuals, that is included Armenia and Artsakh! this is why we need democracy and freedom of speech…at least we will be able to hear about the truth, at very end!!

  25. Norin Radd said:

    Dook Hyer miak $20 million lawsuit shaheztik yev nayek inkneret ztez desek inch pes ek irar kokort batrum. Yerkoo hat pastabaner irar hetevitz en ungel vor mi kani kopek aveli shat pox shahen irantz papik yev tatikneri aryooni ginitz.

    De patkeratzrek vor eis or yete tachikneren mer garte untooneyin yev mezi $20 billion vechareyin zter nman hyer yerevi irar morteyik poxi hamar sovatz shakalineri nman anapatoom.

    Leriv hyeutyan xaytaretzik eis pes dirkov yev unmakartak zteverov, ahmot bolor antamnerin vor eis gortzi mech masnakum en, irok gext ek. Huysov em ein 2,000,000 hokineren vor mahatzeren ztezi yerpek eis pesi che tesnen.

    Shame on all of you. Great way to set an example, truly a disgusting turn of events, all guilty parties, whoever they may be, find a hole and crawl in like the worms you are and never come out or call yourselves Armenian. If you are Armenian, then I’m ashamed to call myself one.

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  28. Razmig said:

    It only takes a pseudo-Armenian to file a frivolous lawsuit like this to benefit only Turkey and blemish the name of a national hero..All you have to do is check the AXA court file available online to see how Yeghiayan was requesting an independent audit of the AXA funds for the last two years and ask yourself why Geragos and Kabateck have been sitting on genocide funds for the past five years.ask the French AXA settlement Board why they want to come and audit them and why they have been cornered to file these frivolous lawsuits in defense.
    It is no surprise that Yeghiayan has pursued his sacred work in genocide reparations without this bums and has filed many lawsuits against muti-million companies,banks and governments.The rest of them only take credit for work they have not done.Will someone explain to me why Geragos is giving a lecture for ANC on a case from which he has been fired from?
    Enough of treating people like idiots.We too have a brain…

  29. Razmig said:

    Anybody can file any frivolous lawsuit to blemish a mans name.Read Harut Sassounians column which states that Yeghiayan had petitioned to the Court a year ago to set up an independent audit.Why would a thief ask for an audit of these accounts?Wait until the truth unfolds before you pass judgement

  30. Anoush said:

    I dont know why Center For Armenian Remembrance is accused of being a sham charity.I recently attended two very interesting lectures given by non Armenian professors and the first screening of Aghet in the US all sponsored and organised by CAR.I have purchased many of their publications and regularly visit virtual Armenia .If these lawyers were aware of any cultural activity in California they would not have filed this lawsuit.

  31. Khachatur said:

    My entitlements were stolen by an attorney who was arrested. Attorneys still provide the court with fraudulent documents so aiming to steal what I am really owed….blood price of my grand parents..