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More than $500k shared with Woburn Police Department after precious metals probe

Posted by boston.com  August 10, 2013 03:20 PM

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WOBURN, Mass. (AP) — The Woburn police department is getting more than $520,000 for helping federal officials foil an attempt by a Boston-area dealer of precious metals to smuggle large quantities of gold and cash into the United States from Canada.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations says Woburn police are receiving the money for their assistance in the criminal investigation of Zohrab Sarkissian.

Federal officials say the money is part of funds obtained when Sarkissian agreed in July 2011 to withdraw his claim to 15 gold bars, more than $13,000 in cash, a luxury sedan and other valuable metal. Authorities say Sarkissian attempted to smuggle the gold and cash through the port of entry in High Gate Spring, Vt. in August 2010.

The remaining funds will go to federal coffers.

The following is the press release on the case from  Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has presented the Woburn Police Department (WPD) with funds obtained from a criminal investigation. The funds were shared with the WPD for their assistance in the investigation into a Boston-area precious metals dealer who attempted to smuggle large quantities of gold into the U.S. from Canada. 

The WPD received a payment of $523,015.26 for their assistance with the investigation.
 
“HSI is proud to recognize the key role that our equally important local law enforcement partners played in bringing this case to a successful resolution,” said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. “This money will allow the Woburn Police Department to continue the excellent work they do in the community.”  

The funds constitute a portion of the money obtained when Zohrab Sarkissian agreed July 29, 2011, to withdraw his claim to 15 bars of gold, $13,806 in U.S. currency, a 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL550, and .21 pounds of gold colored metal. In August 2010, Zohrab had attempted to smuggle the gold and cash into the U.S. via the High Gate Spring, Vt., port of entry. On June 1, 2012, the gold bars were liquidated for the amount of $751,347.00. After the associated administrative costs of the forfeiture, the final forfeited amount was $747,413.97. 

Woburn Chief of Police Robert Ferullo commended his officers for their work on the case. The remainder of the funds will go to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Asset Forfeiture Program.
The funds were distributed in accordance with HSI’s asset-forfeiture program that applies to assets obtained as proceeds or instrumentalities of criminal activity. 

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