LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The FBI's hunt continues this morning for a Tarzana couple who allegedly cut their ankle tracking bracelets and went on the run while awaiting sentencing for their roles in an $18 million COVID-19 relief fraud case.
Facing the possibility of years behind bars, Richard Ayvazyan and his wife and co-defendant Marietta Terabelian removed their location monitoring devices and absconded from pretrial supervision together on Aug. 29, according to the FBI.
The following day, a Los Angeles federal judge signed bench warrants for the couple's arrest.
It's believed that Ayvazyan and Terabelian are traveling together.
Newly issued FBI wanted posters for the pair state that Ayvazyan “is known to abuse drugs.'' Terabelian has worked in the past at a children's hair salon, the document shows.
The couple drive a white 2004 Toyota Camry with California license plates 5JYK335, according to the FBI.
Ayvazyan, 43, Terabelian, 37, and two relatives were found guilty in June of scheming to submit fraudulent loan applications under which they and others obtained more than $18 million in Paycheck Protection and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program funds they used to put down payments on luxury homes in Tarzana, Glendale and Palm Desert and purchase jewelry and other high-end items.
They were scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 4.
Prosecutors filed papers Monday requesting sentencing enhancements for the alleged escape from supervision and because many of the scheme's victims were considered “vulnerable.''
Ayvazyan “victimized elderly persons (including those with disabilities), deceased persons, and foreign exchange students who had spent only a few months in the United States years ago and now lived thousands of miles away in a foreign country,'' federal prosecutors wrote.
Attorneys for the pair did not immediately respond to requests for comment from City News Service.
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.
The jury determined the defendants must forfeit bank accounts, jewelry, watches, gold coins, three homes and about $450,000 in cash, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Evidence showed the defendants used bogus or stolen identities to submit fraudulent applications for the loans. In support of the applications, the defendants also submitted sham documents to lenders and the Small Business Administration, including fake identity documents, tax documents and payroll records.
The couple used the fraudulently obtained funds as down payments on luxury homes and to buy gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, imported furnishings, designer handbags, clothing and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Prior to the verdict, four accomplices pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the case.
The FBI asks that anyone who has information on the couple call 310-477-6565.
Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.