The FBI arrested an ethnic Armenian Glendale cop in suspicion of obstruction of justice and providing false testimonies.
As far back as 2015, John Saro Balian, a Glendale narcotics detective, used burner phones to tip off gangsters about upcoming raids, authorities said Tuesday, The Los Angeles Times reported.
John Saro Balian is also suspected of collaborating with other criminals to steal cars, presumably to sell abroad and taking money to hunt someone down.
When confronted by federal agents in four interviews over the last year, authorities say Balian, 45, lied about his ties to the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime in Southern California.
“I’m not [expletive] on anybody’s payroll,” he told the Los Angeles Police Department and FBI in one interview.
Prosecutors this week charged Balian with one count of making false statements to federal investigators.
“Mr. Balian moved in criminal circles and operated as though he was above the law by repeatedly lying to hide his criminal activity,” Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said in a statement. “His alleged actions impeded legitimate investigations into organized violent crime and consequently presented a threat to public safety.”
Balian once served as spokesman for the Glendale Police Department, according to Los Angeles Times.
In one incident, Balian allegedly offered an informant and a second man $100,000 to “scare” the bodyguard of an Armenian businessman in Commerce, a request that led to a shooting in July 2016, the Los Angeles Times said.
Federal authorities Tuesday afternoon were searching Balian’s Seal Beach home, an FBI spokeswoman said. They were looking for evidence of racketeering, interference with commerce by robbery or extortion, and bribery, according to an affidavit.
The arrested cop was one of five Armenian-American police officers who sued Glendale in 2010, alleging discrimination, retaliation and harassment, according to the Los Angeles Times.