FBI: Tarzana couple convicted of $21-million COVID-19 relief fraud flee ahead of sentencing

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Authorities are searching for a Tarzana husband and wife who were found guilty of fraudulently obtaining $21 million dollars in COVID-19 relief funds earlier this summer but recently fled before they were due to be sentenced for their crimes, the FBI said Tuesday.

A federal jury convicted the couple, 43-year-old Richard Ayvazyan and 37-year-old Marietta Terabelian, for conspiring with family members and others to bilk the government out of millions in Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan relief funds in late June, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

In total, eight people were convicted in the case.

The scheme involved utilizing fake and stolen identities to submit fraudulent applications to procure the PPP and EDIL money, evidence presented at the trial revealed. The defendants then used the disaster relief to purchase three Southern California homes, jewelry, diamonds, gold coins and other luxury goods, federal prosecutors said.

Ayvazyan and Terabelian potentially face decades in prison at their sentencing, which was scheduled for Sept. 13, a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release stated.

But ahead of that date, the pair allegedly sliced off their monitoring bracelets and ran off, according to the FBI.

They are now considered fugitives, the agency said.

In addition to the couple, Ayvazyan’s brother, Artur Ayvazyan, and another man, Vahe Dadyan, were also convicted in the case on June 28.

All were found guilty of 11 counts of wire fraud, eight counts of bank fraud and one count apiece of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The Ayvazyan brothers and Dadyan were each found guilty of additional, separate charges.

Additionally, four other San Fernando Valley residents pleaded guilty to charges tied to the pandemic relief fraud scheme, according to federal prosecutors.

The FBI is asking anyone with information on the whereabouts of Richard Ayvazyan and Marietta Terabelian to call 310-477-6565.

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