In this photo provided by the Davis County Sheriff’s Office shows Lev Aslan Dermen. Openings arguments are set Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Utah for a California businessman who prosecutors accuse of being a key figure in a $511 million tax credit scheme carried out by two executives of a Salt Lake City biodiesel company linked to a polygamous group. The men from the polygamous group pleaded guilty last year to money fraud and other charges and are expected to testify against Lev Aslan Dermen, who has pleaded not guilty. (Davis County Sheriff’s Office, via AP)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – An attorney for a California businessman who prosecutors allege led a nearly $500 million fraud scheme against the U.S. says his client is being scapegoated by polygamists.
Lawyer Mark Gerago made the assertion Thursday during his trial opening statement, saying Lev Arslan Dermen was used by others accused in the scheme to avoid having to share proceeds with others in the polygamous group.
Prosecutors contend the men joined Dermen in exchange for protection by what he called his “umbrella” of law enforcement and government sources. Dermen has pleaded not guilty.
The polygamists pleaded guilty and are expected to testify against Dermen.
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