一对加利福尼亚夫妇在窃取数百万 Covid-19 救助资金后失踪. 他们为三个孩子留下了告别信

理查德·艾瓦赞 (Richard Ayvazyan) 和他的妻子, 玛丽埃塔·泰拉贝莉安, were facing prison for their role in a massive covid relief fraud scheme when they cut off their electronic tracking bracelets and fled their California home, abandoning their three teenage children.

They left a typewritten note for the kids, 年龄 13, 15 和 16.
We will be together again one day,” it read, according to Ayvazyan’s attorney. “This is not a goodbye but a brief break from each other.
      This was late August. Almost three months laterand five months after their convictions in Junethe couple still have not been found. The FBI is searching for them.
        That didn’t stop a judge this week from sentencing Ayvazyan, 43, and Terabelian, 37, in absentia to 17 and six years in prison, 分别. Prosecutors said they and others carried out a scheme to steal more than $ 20 million in relief funds intended for small businesses during the pandemic.
          The defendants used the COVID-19 crisis to steal millions of dollars in much-needed government aid intended for people and businesses suffering from the economic effects of the worst pandemic in a century,” said US Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison.
          Another federal prosecutor said their case was the first of its kind in the nation to go to trial.

          The stolen money fueled a lavish lifestyle

          The couple and Ayvazyan’s brother, Artur Ayvazyan, 41, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering at a trial in June. Richard Ayvazyan and his brother were also convicted of aggravated identity theft.
          According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, they used fake or stolen identitiesincluding the names of dead people and foreign exchange students who briefly visited the US years agoto submit fraudulent applications for approximately 150 federal pandemic relief loans for sham businesses in San Fernando Valley.
          To support the fraudulent loan applications, they submitted fake identity documents along with falsified tax forms and payroll records to lenders and the Small Business Administration, 联邦检察官说.
          夫妇, along with Ayvazyan’s brother and five co-conspirators, used the money to buy mansions in three Southern California citiesTarzana, Glendale and Palm Desertalong with gold coins, 钻石, 家具类, luxury watches and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, 检察官说.
          Richard Ayvazyan of Tarzana, 加利福尼亚州, seen outside the courthouse at his trial in June. 他被判处 17 years in federal prison for fraudulent applications for emergency government loans during the pandemic.

          When they were convicted they had to forfeit three houses and the luxury items, along with bank accounts and approximately $ 450,000 用现金.
          When our nation was at its most vulnerable, these individuals thought only about lining their own pockets,” 说过 Ryan L. Korner, a special agent in the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Office, after this week’s sentencing. “These sentences reflect the seriousness of these crimes.
          It’s unclear whether Richard Ayvazyan masterminded the scheme, but of the eight people convicted so far, he was handed by far the longest sentence — 17 年份. Nobody else was sentenced to more than six years. 他的兄弟, Artur Ayvazyan, got five years.
          At sentencing on Monday, US District Judge Stephen V. Wilson called Richard Ayvazyanan endemic, cold-hearted fraudster with no regard for the lawand someone whoviews fraud as an achievement.
          The couple’s three children were in the courtroom to witness their parents and uncle being sentenced.

          Ayvazyan’s lawyer says there’s more to the story

          The whereabouts of Richard Ayvazyan and Marietta Terabelian remain unknown. 联邦调查局 提供一个 $ 20,000 reward for information leading to their arrest.
          Ashwin J. 内存, an attorney for the elder Ayvazyan, said prosecutors painted an exaggerated picture of his client’s involvement.
          It should be noted that the government repeatedly touted this to be a $ 18 million or $ 20 million case, depending on the day and who was speaking,” Ram told CNN. “At the sentencing hearing, 然而, the court found that Richard Ayvazyan is only responsible for a loss amount in the range of $ 1.5 百万. That is a far cry from the government’s theory of the case.
          Ram said he has not talked to Ayvazyan since he fled in August. He believes if his client had been in court, he’d have explained his side of the story.
          It was unfortunate that Mr. Ayvazyan was not present to complete the picture for the court,” 他说. “That would have shed light on his background and experience, including his role a community leader, angel investor, and father and husband.
          玛丽埃塔·泰拉贝莉安, 对, seen in June, was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud and other federal crimes.

          Ram also said the couple’s family believes they may have been abducted by other co-conspirators.
          “他 (Ayvazyan) has been accused of conspiring with dozens of people, and only a few have been charged. So if he is really the ringleader, somebody out there may want to silence him.
          Ram added that in addition to the message to their kids, the couple’s farewell note also made a reference to threats they are facing — “something about they’re leaving to avoid the danger being posed to the family.
          He called on the government to investigate.
          Terabelian’s attorney, Ryan Fraser, described her to CNN asa loving mother and devoted wife who has tirelessly supported not only her three children, but also her parents, mother-in-law, and sister.” 他补充说 “Judge Wilson recognized this in his sentence, imposing significantly less than one-third the time the prosecutors sought in their memorandum.
          Fraser declined to answer further questions about his client or the fraudulent loan scheme.
          Information on Artur Ayvazyan’s lawyer was not immediately available.

          The kidsguardians had hoped to send them to Armenia

          The couple’s three children are under the care of their grandmothers and a court-appointed guardian, Ram said.
          He said their caregivers recently filed an emergency application for passports for them to travel to Armenia, where they have relatives.
          The guardians had hoped to send the kids to Armenia to avoid the media circus surrounding their parents’ 量刑, but the passports weren’t approved, 他说.
          Ram also said he’d objected to the court sentencing Richard Ayvazyan and Terabelian in absentia, adding he wanted the hearing delayed until if and when they resurfaced.
            Five other Southern Californians, including Artur Ayvazyan’s wife, have pleaded guilty to various charges in the case. Four of them have been sentenced, to terms ranging from probation to six years in prison.
            Artur Ayvazyan’s wife is scheduled to be sentenced on December 6, but the judge has not yet ruled on a motion to withdraw her guilty plea.