Glendale attorney Vartkes Boghos Yeghiayan, 80, (bar #41773) and his wife, attorney Rita Mahdessian, 57, (bar #141901) are facing disbarment charges in State Bar Court for deliberately misappropriating $385,000 reserved for Armenian Genocide survivors and charitable organizations that help the Armenian community.
According to court documents, in 2005, Yeghiayan and Mahdessian received in trust a $20 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit against New York life Insurance Co. (NYLIC) and AXA, S.A. on behalf of heirs and descendants of persons killed during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1918.
Shortly after, Yeghiayan and Mahdessian created two nonprofit corporations - the Center for Armenian Remembrance (CAR) and Conservatoire de la Memorie Armenienne (CMA). Articles of Incorporation for both nonprofits list the Glendale business address of the couple's law firm, Yeghiayan & Associates.
In 2007, Yeghiayan misrepresented to the district court that the two charities were qualified to receive settlement funds. Based on Yeghiayan's representations, the court issued an order authorizing transfer of $200,000 to CAR.
Over several years, multiple questionable transactions took place in both CAR and...