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Ex Bank Rep Admits $14M Ponzi Scheme

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A former Bank of America employee pleaded guilty Monday to running a Ponzi scheme that cost -investors more than $14 million. Antoine David Haroutunian, of Glendale, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges involving his companies, Luminous Wealth Management and Luminous Management. It was the third time this month that Haroutunian has pleaded guilty to fraud.

Haroutunian took his victims' money for himself and to pay associates in New York, Los Angeles, and Armenia, prosecutors said. Also this month Haroutunian admitted in federal court that he used his account-access privileges as a Bank of America customer service representative in 2003 to withdraw money and make unauthorized transfers by writing checks to himself and his associates. Bank of America lost more than $450,000.

Haroutunian also pleaded guilty to tax fraud, prosecutors said. He admitted that in 2004 he got a tax refund of $183,345 by reporting fake gambling losses on his personal tax return.

Appearing on Monday morning before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, Haroutunian acknowledged that he used written materials, including the Los Angeles Times, to solicit investors. Haroutunian claimed that Luminous held investments in commercial bridge loans, U.S. government-guaranteed loans and options and real estate investment trusts. Haroutunian made almost no investments despite promising 24 percent annual returns.

In September of 2006, the California Department of Corporations issued two cease and desist orders against Haroutunian which he ignored. He continued his scam, causing investors $10 million.

Haroutunian faces up to 125 years in prison at his August sentencing.

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