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Lev Dermen found guilty on all counts

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Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020. 10:28 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Levon Termendzhyan, 53, alias Lev Aslan Dermen, has been found guilty of 10 felony counts, two of conspiracy and eight of money laundering by a federal jury in Salt Lake City, Utah and faces up to 180 years in prison.

The Armenian-American businessman was the only defendant to go to trial in a Utah fraud scheme that sought $1.1 billion from a government biofuel program.

His accused co-conspirator Jacob Kingston took a plea deal and testified extensively against him, saying he led him, Kingston, to believe they would be protected by an extensive force of law enforcement and Government officials of Dermen’s acquaintance.

This included Belizean former Cabinet Minister John Saldivar, who accepted payments of U.S. $25,000 per month from Dermen and as documented on at least one occasion in a text message conversation submitted as evidence, from Kingston, collected in Miami.

Saldivar failed to disclose the transactions, which he said were for community assistance and campaign finance, either at the time or while the trial was ongoing until the revealing of the text message thread. An investigation by Police here is underway but will depend in part on evidence obtained in the Dermen trial.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, however, judge Jill Parrish has postponed rulings on a mistrial motion from defense Attorney Mark Geragos as well as sentencing and a related civil matter about which assets Derman must forfeit, all dur to the coronavirus pandemic.

Geragos argued for a mistrial on the basis that COVID-19 concerns would impact the jury’s deliberations and affect his client’s right to a fair trial. But they returned with a verdict faster than anyone had expected by 1:30 p.m. Monday, Utah Time. He also vowed to appeal the verdict.

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