Geragos Sues Yeghiayan Alleging Fraud In Genocide Survivor Settlements

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LOS ANGELES (Asbarez) — Attorneys Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday, March 11, 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 lawsuits 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 allege that Yeghiayan and Mahdessian misappropriated some $1 million slated for Armenian community organizations 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 Conservatoire de la Memoire Armenienne, which the suit alleges is listed at a non-existent address on Avenue des Champs Elysees. The Los Angeles Daily Journal, a law publication, 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 fund educational programs.

“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 Kabateck were “pissed off” because they were left “out of” other Genocide settlement cases.

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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. (Calls to the offices of Mark Geragos and Vartkes Yeghiayan by the Mirror-Spectator were not returned by press time — AKG)