Derailment of Justice for Many Heirs of Armenian Genocide Victims: Are Attorneys Brian Kabateck, Shant Karnikian Witting or Unwitting Accessory to Embezzlement?
Posted on September. 7. 2023
BY APPO K. JABARIAN Executive Publisher / Managing Editor USA Armenian Life Magazine (English-language print edition) Hye Kiank Armenian Weekly (Armenian-language print edition) USA Armenian Life E-Newsletter (Electronic Distribution — e-blast) USA Armenian Life FACEBOOK | www.armenianlife.com TV Host, USA Armenian Life TV on AMGA
In1999 a class action lawsuit was filed against New York Life Insurance Co. by Martin Marootian of California and 12 other plaintiffs, including one from the Republic of Armenia.
. In 2004, New York Life Insurance Co. agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles by heirs of Armenian genocide victims who accused the company of failing to honor valid claims.
. A few years later, under terms of a settlement reached in a U.S. court, the French insurance company, AXA, has agreed to pay descendants $17 million. A lion’s share of the funds was allocated to be shared by Armenian heirs of AXA’s policyholders who died in the Armenian Genocide.
. The lawyers for the heirs in both cases were Vartkes Yeghiayan, Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck.
. The manner in which the disbursement of the New York Life/AXA French insurance company Armenian Genocide victims’ settlement funds proved to be very problematic. Reportedly millions of dollars were misused and outright misappropriated.
. In 2022, The Los Angeles Times’ investigative journalists Harriet Ryan and Matt Hamilton wrote a series of articles that shed light on the darkest pages of a litany of embezzlement instances involving several actors.
. The article series triggered a major outcry among the members of American Armenian and the wider Diaspora along with Armenia.
. In September 2022, the State Bar of California announced that the State Bar is investigating “attorneys Mark John Geragos (State Bar No. 108325) and Brian Stephen Kabateck (State Bar No. 152054) in connection with the Armenian Genocide insurance settlement funds from which dispersals were made in the U.S. and France.”
. In early 2023, Mr. Geragos filed a libel lawsuit against The Los Angeles Times.
. Recently, USA Armenian Life Magazine secured court documents showing eye-opening details on legal maneuvers by Mr. Geragos, his fellow Class Counsel Brian Kabateck, Kabateck’s underling Shant Karnikian and others. One of several court documents show that in the Case No. 23STCV06397, Filed March 22, 2023, by MARK GERAGOS against LOS ANGELES TIMES COMMUNICATIONS LLC, the parent company of the LA Times; reporters PAUL PRINGLE, HARRIET RYAN, and MATT HAMILTON, Mr. Geragos’s attorney Tina Glandian filed a “PLAINTIFF’S COMPENDIUM OF EVIDENCE (VOL 1 OF 4) in Opposition to LA Times’ Special Motion to Strike Plaintiff’s Complaint.
. In early August, a California state judge dismissed Mr. Geragos’ libel suit against the Los Angeles Times over its coverage of a $37 million settlement for Armenian Genocide victims that prompted a State Bar probe. Reportedly Mr. Geragos has now taken the case to the California State Supreme Court. Many legal experts are of firm belief that the case may well be condemned to the same fate as in the State Superior Court.
. Court documents also show a number of declarations were made by various individuals in support of Mr. Geragos’s libel lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times. Brian Kabateck, Benjamin Meiselas, Shant Karnikian, Robert Kalunian, Stanley Goldman, Harout Markarian, Maria Mehranian, Joseph Dunn and wife of Parsegh Kartalian Ani Kartalian were among those who presented declarations in support of Mr. Geragos.
. The declarations were reviewed by a number of knowledgeable members of the American Armenian community. Several reviewers found attorney Shant Karnikian’s declaration as the most contradictory.
. The reviewers found that Mr. Karnikian attempted to whitewash many of the implications leveled at his boss Mr. Kabateck as “an exercise in futility.” In the February 2022 email to the Los Angeles Times reporters and the editorial staff, many statements made by Mr. Karnikian in support of the libel lawsuit against Los Angeles Times turned out to be meritless. On Aug. 3, California Superior Court for County of Los Angeles Judge Wendy Chang issued a written order granting the Los Angeles Times’ special motion to strike Mr. Geragos’ complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute, which takes aim at lawsuits that target free speech, often referred to as Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP).
. One can comfortably believe that California Superior Court Judge Wendy Chang’s verdict has validated the investigative article series by The Los Angeles Times award-winning journalists Harriet Ryan and Matt Hamilton as factual and unassailable.
. In their article series, Ms. Ryan and Mr. Hamilton had accurately revealed: “As it turned out, the process set up in L.A. resulted in a tiny fraction of applicants receiving money and a pool of cash left over.” What happened to the pool of cash left over?
. Court documents show that in early 2022, LA Time reporters Ryan and Hamilton had submitted a question to Mr. Kabateck: “The French board and Mr. Yeghiayan also found other instances of questionable handling of settlement money — the $500k that went to Zaven Halebian of Syria; the $300k to the Iraqi man who could never be found, the $300k to Kartalian’s relatives. How did this happen? Who is to blame?”
. Acting as Mr. Kabateck’s defense attorney, Mr. Karnikian had answered saying “In short, Berj Boyajian is to blame…. On May 18th, 2011, Mr. Geragos and Mr. Kabateck gave a status report to the Court that summarized the fraud committed by Parsegh Kartalian. This led Mr. Kabateck and Mr. Geragos to eventually seek an independent third party to audit the Settlement Fund. Along with Roman Silberfeld, Mr. Kabateck and Mr. Geragos chose to hire the accounting firm Hotlhouse Carlin & Van Trigt (Holthouse). After Holthouse got involved, Mr. Kabateck, Mr. Geragos, and Mr. Silberfeld discovered that Boyajian endorsed nine settlement checks totaling $574,425.00 that were made payable to Zaven Haleblian (presumably misspelled by you as Habelian). Class Counsel had no knowledge of this man up to this point. Haleblian confirmed in a deposition that he had no knowledge of the AXA settlement and did not file a claim. Boyajian deposited the checks into an account using a forged signature of Haleblian.”
. Mr. Karnikian continued: “Boyajian subsequently returned $559,790 to the AXA Settlement Account at First Republic Bank after Class Counsel exposed him, sadly, the $14,635.00 remained unaccounted for. See 2012-10-26 Joint Status Report. So, to answer your question, Boyajian was to blame and Mr. Kabateck and Mr. Geragos reported his actions to the Court as soon as they discovered them. … Kartalian sent $300,000 to his immediate family members. … It is beyond dispute that Boyajian and Kartalian were to blame for these fraudulent transfers.”
. In Mr. Karnikian’s own words, there were ample evidence for misuse, abuse and/or embezzlement by Kabateck/Geragos close allies — now disbarred attorney Berj Boyajian and Settlement Fund administrator. Why Mr. Kabateck and his colleagues failed to notice the red flags on wrongdoings by their allies?
. Incidentally, Geragos, Kabateck along with their close allies Boyajian, Kartalian and the corrupt banker Avo Avedis Markarian involved in cashing fraudulent checks, have long been close allies of Western Diocese primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.
. What is certain for many members of the global Armenian community, is that a clear derailment of Justice for many heirs of Armenian Genocide victims has occurred. Many are asking are attorneys Brian Kabateck and Shant Karnikian witting or unwitting accomplices to these acts of embezzlement?