Missing San Fernando Valley couple sentenced to prison for part in $18 million scam
A San Fernando Valley couple accused of removing their tracking bracelets and going on the lam after they were convicted in an $18 million COVID-19 relief fraud case were sentenced to federal prison this week despite their non-appearance in court.
Richard Ayvazyan, 43, and his wife and co-defendant Marietta Terabelian, 37, have been missing since Aug. 29.
Federal authorities believe the couple, facing the possibility of years behind bars, removed their location-monitoring devices, left a note for their children, and absconded together from their Encino home. The following day, a Los Angeles judge signed bench warrants for their arrest.
Ayvazyan was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison on Monday, Nov. 15, and his wife was handed a six-year term, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Relatives of the couple contend the pair was kidnapped, apparently to prevent them from disclosing the identities of accomplices not indicted, according to court papers.
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson rejected the theory, finding that Ayvazyan and Terabelian had a motive to flee and there was no evidence to suggest they were taken by force. Law enforcement officials say they believe Ayvazyan and Terabelian are traveling together.
The couple and two relatives were found guilty in June of submitting fraudulent loan applications under which they and others obtained more than $18 million in Paycheck Protection and Economic Injury Disaster Loan funds, which they used to make down payments on luxury homes in Tarzana, Glendale and Palm Desert, and to buy other high-end items such as gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, imported furnishings, designer handbags, clothing and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
The defendants were convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Ayvazyan was also found guilty of aggravated identity theft.
Evidence showed the defendants used bogus or stolen identities to submit fraudulent applications for the loans. To support the applications, the defendants also submitted sham documents to lenders and the Small Business Administration, including fake identity documents, tax documents and payroll records, prosecutors said.
Prior to the verdict, four accomplices pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the case.