To the editor:
John Babikian, foreign partner of James Martin, The Dalles wine-in-a-glass guy, settled out-of-court this month for $3,730,000 with the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission). The Martin/Babikian partnership operated from the city-owned Sunshine Mill property, at 901 E. 2nd Street, The Dalles, property Martin has the option to buy once his substantial city loans are repaid.
In my view, this first case will open the door for others, perhaps criminal, to follow. Including investigating the sources of funds Babikian used to purchase a nearby 480-acre wheat farm for $2 million cash in April 2012. And the $5 million Martin claims his business partner Babikian “gave” him to develop the property into a large irrigated wine vineyard. And investigate Babikian’s alleged key role in Martin’s Copa Di Vino Company stock purchase and sale(s). Bloomberg News reported that they suspect Babikian was a key figure in a $3 billion penny stock fraud scheme from which he allegedly reaped $100 million for himself in personal wealth.
Perhaps Babikian thought rural Oregon would be a safe place to hide some of it. But that is for the FBI and others to investigate and resolve — not me. For, like Will Rogers, “all I know is what I read in the newspapers [and] court records).” However, if any allegations prove to be true, including tax evasion, in my opinion, it would be naive to assume no other charges will ever be filed against Babikian and his business associates.
I am not an attorney but it’s my understanding that if the U.S. government prevails, those that got money, stock or property directly or indirectly from Babikian will have to surrender it to the U.S. Government. It’s their legal position, it was never Babikian’s money. And they don’t have to prove that those receiving the money knew that it was “bad money,” only show that the defendant(s) should have known it could be “bad” money before taking it for their own use and enrichment.
In addition to forfeiting money and property some risk facing heavy fines and prison. But that is just my opinion, and I could be wrong. For those that lost their honest hard earned money — I hope not. And those that used Babikian’s money should have taken Tex Ritter’s song advice, “paid no mind as to what it said, I should have read , that detour sign, for there’s a muddy road ahead.”