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Three Additional Members Of San Fernando Valley-Based COVID-19 Fraud Scheme Arrested

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Coronavirus COVID19 Money

Three additional San Fernando Valley residents have been arrested in connection to a scheme that allegedly submitted more than 150 fraudulent loan applications seeking nearly $22 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

The alleged scheme involved funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

Three of the new defendants were arrested Thursday as the result of a 33-count superseding indictment that charges a total of eight defendants with using fake, stolen or synthetic identities to submit fraudulent applications for loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Economic Injury Disaster Relief Program (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under the CARES Act, prosecutors said.

The suspects arrested are Manuk Grigoryan, 27, of Sun Valley; Edvard Paronyan, 40, of Granada Hills; and Vahe Dadyan, 41, of Glendale, according to the indictment.

All three were arraigned on Thursday in United States District Court in Downtown Los Angeles. During court appearances that continued into the evening, a United States Magistrate Judge released all three on bond and ordered them to stand trial on May 4, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

A fourth new defendant charged in the superseding indictment – Arman Hayrapetyan, 38, of Glendale – is still being sought by federal authorities, according to prosecutors.

The superseding indictment, which was filed on Tuesday, adds the four new defendants to an indictment filed in November that led to the arrests of co-defendants Richard Ayvazyan, Marietta Terabelian, Artur Ayvazyan and Tamara Dadyan.

According to the superseding indictment, the eight defendants conspired together, and with others, as part of a disaster-relief loan fraud ring that submitted fraudulent loan applications that often included fake identity documents, tax documents and payroll records. 

The eight defendants “submitted and caused the submission of at least 151 fraudulent PPP and EIDL loan applications seeking a total of at least $21.9 million in PPP and EIDL proceeds from the SBA and at least 11 financial institutions, and received a total of at least $18 million in PPP and EIDL loan proceeds from the SBA and financial institutions,” the indictment states.

The defendants allegedly used the fraudulently obtained funds as down payments on luxury homes in Tarzana, Glendale and Palm Desert. They also used the funds to buy gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, fine imported furnishings, designer handbags and clothing, cryptocurrency, and securities, according to the indictment.

All of the defendants named in the superseding indictment are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each defendant is named in various other counts in the indictments which allege wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

 The superseding indictment alleges that Richard Ayvazyan and Tamara Dadyan committed crimes after they were released on bond in this case. The superseding indictment further alleges that Richard Ayvazyan continued to use his alias “Iuliia Zhadko” to launder the proceeds of the scheme, including by using the money to buy cryptocurrency and securities. As alleged, Tamara Dadyan repeatedly lied to a bank as part of a scheme to unlawfully obtain disaster-relief funds that had been frozen in an account that she had fraudulently opened using a stolen identity.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form here.

Crime

Chiropractors Charged In $2.5 Million Auto Insurance Fraud, Kickback Scheme

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Los Angeles Courtroom-2

A dozen chiropractors have been charged in a $2.5 million insurance fraud and illegal kickback scheme involving automobile collision medical claims.

The scheme’s alleged ringleader, Yury Chernega, 49, of Studio City, faces four counts each of the aforementioned charges as well as one count of money laundering, according to Pamela Johnson, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The charges include allegations of taking more than $500,000 from about 30 insurance companies through fraud and embezzlement.

“Defrauding insurance companies is a serious crime that costs all of us in the form of higher premiums,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “We will continue to work with local, state and federal regulators to protect consumers from financial crimes.”

Prosecutors have charged the defendants with nine felony counts, including insurance fraud and participating in patient referral rebates when licensed in the healing arts or as a chiropractor, according to the D.A.’s Office. 

Three other San Fernando Valley residents were arrested in connection to the scheme including Bruce Householder, of Burbank, Alexander Royzman, of Granda Hills, and Payam Shayan, of Tarzana.

Canyon Country resident Luzan Madain was also charged with the alleged fraud, according to prosecutors. 

From 2014 through 2019, Chernega allegedly offered to refer new patients to other chiropractors in return for an illegal referral fee, through which he collected about $2.5 million, prosecutors said. The patients allegedly had been involved in automobile collisions. 

The defendants also are accused of filing false claims for medical services they never provided. The case stems from an ongoing case involving Chernega and 14 additional chiropractors filed in 2019. 

The case remains under investigation by the District Attorney’s Auto Insurance Fraud Division and Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the California Department of Insurance, the California Franchise Tax Board, the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Arraignment for all but one defendant has been scheduled for June 29 in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. Arraignment for Royzman is expected to take place the following week. 

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Tujunga Man Charged With Domestic Violence Kidnapping, Murder Of Good Samaritan

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North Hollywood Shooting Kidnapping
Devon Miller / The Valley Post

A Tujunga man has been charged with kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and fatally shooting a man who tried to intervene in North Hollywood. 

Shane Winfield Rayment, 37, faces one felony count each of murder, kidnapping, criminal threats, injuring a girlfriend, first-degree residential burglary with person present and possession of a firearm by a felon, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. 

“It’s especially tragic when a good Samaritan becomes a victim,” Gascón said in a statement.  “I send my heartfelt condolences to his family. Mr. Fletes will always be remembered for his heroic actions on behalf of another.”

On June 6, Rayment went to the North Hollywood home where his ex-girlfriend was staying and struggled with her when Roberto Conjeo Fletes attempted to intervene, prosecutors said. Rayment is accused of fatally shooting Fletes, 42, before fleeing with her. 

The woman was found on June 8 during a traffic stop in Hemet and Rayment was arrested. 

Hemet officers conducted a felony traffic stop and took Rayment into custody without incident.  

“The victim of the kidnapping, Jenny Downes, was discovered in the vehicle, battered and bruised, but alive,” investigators said.

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Detectives Investigating Deadly Sun Valley Shooting

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Police Lights Crash

Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Valley Bureau Homicide are investigating a fatal Sun Valley shooting.

On June 9, about 11 p.m., LAPD Foothill patrol officers responded to the report of an assault with a deadly weapon on the 7900 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Sun Valley, according to the department in a statement.

Moments later, a second radio call was received just a few blocks down Laurel Canyon Boulevard for a traffic collision involving a 2021 Land Rover.

The preliminary investigation revealed that the victim was involved in a dispute that ended in a shooting. 

The victim drove away from the scene and collided with parked vehicles on the 7600 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, according to detectives. 

Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded and transported the victim to a local hospital where he died during surgery.   

The victim is described as a 43-year-old, male from Los Angeles. The identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin.

As of Thursday, there are no suspects identified, according to the LAPD.

Anyone with additional information is urged to call Detective Steve Castro, Valley Bureau Homicide, at (818) 374-1925.  During non-business hours, or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-527-3247.  

Those wishing to remain anonymous should call the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or go directly here.

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