Facing federal prison for COVID-19 loan fraud, a Southern California couple abandoned their children and fled justice, according to a November 16 press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Richard Ayvazyan, 43, and Marietta Terabelian, 37, had been convicted on June 25th of multiple counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit these felonies. They cut off their electronic tracking bracelets on August 29th and disappeared from their home in Encino, a wealthy suburb near Los Angeles.
They left a typewritten note to their three children, aged 13, 15, and 16, promising an unspecified reunion sometime in the future.
The FBI is offering up to $20,000 for information leading to their apprehension.
Sentenced in absentia
Judge Stephen V. Wilson sentenced the couple in absentia on November 15th. Ayvazyan was sentenced to 17 years, and Terabelian received a six-year sentence.
In addition to the sentences, the jury found that Ayvazyan and Terabelian must forfeit their bank accounts, gold coins, jewelry, watches, and three residential properties. Furthermore, the jury decided they must also pay about $450,000 in cash.
After an eight-day trial, Ayvazyan and Terabelian were convicted of fraudulently obtaining $20 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EICL) designated to assist small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CNN spoke with the defendants’ attorneys, Ashwin Ram for Ayvazyan and Ryan Fraser for Terabelian.
Ram disputed the judge's assertion that his client was a “cold-hearted fraudster.” He said it was “unfortunate” Ayvazyan failed to appear. He explained that Ayvazyan might have been able to mitigate his sentence by showing himself to be a “community leader, angel investor, father, and husband.”
Fraser reported the judge gave Terabelian credit for being a “loving mother and devoted wife” who cared for her extended family. She was sentenced to less than one-third of the time the prosecution had asked for.
Ayvazyan and Terabelian only added to their legal problems. By committing “unlawful flight,” each could face up to five additional years in prison plus more fines under U.S. Code § 1073.
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