Former Armenian Consul Arrested In LA

Scott Coppersmith

MyFox Los Angeles
July 28 2009

ICE arrested Norair Ghalumian early Tuesday.

Los Angeles ( – The former Armenian consul in Los
Angeles was among five people arrested overnight and due in court
this afternoon for alleged involvement in a scheme to allow illegal
immigrants to stay in the country.

Norair Ghalumian, 52, of Burbank — who served as the Armenian
consul in Los Angeles from 1999 to 2003 — was arrested this morning,
according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Also arrested were:

â~@¢Hakop Hovanesyan, 54, of Glendale, a former employee at the
Armenian Consulate in Los Angeles. Hovanesyan, who operates Regency
Travel in Glendale, was arrested Monday night.

â~@¢Margarita Lazarian, 41, of Glendale, an immigration attorney
for Inman and Associates, a law firm in Beverly Hills. Lazarian was
arrested taken into custody on Monday night.

â~@¢Oganes Nardos, 36, of Valencia, a substance abuse counselor, who
was arrested this morning; and â~@¢Elvis Madatyan, 47, of Glendale,
who was arrested this morning.

The defendants, who are named in four separate criminal complaints,
are accused of "obstructing proceedings before a department or agency,
namely, ICE."

All five were expected to make their initial appearances this afternoon
in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

The defendants were arrested on federal criminal charges following
an investigation by ICE into allegations that they obtained — and
sold to illegal immigrants — documents called "letters of refusal,"
which allowed their customers to avoid deportation.

A "letters of refusal" is issued by embassies and consulates,
and states that a country will not issue a travel document for a
particular individual, essentially blocking that person’s deportation
to that nation.

According to the criminal charges that led to the arrests, the five
defendants sold official letters of refusal from the Armenian consulate
for as much as $35,000.

The investigation revealed that many of those who bought the letters
were Armenian nationals facing deportation after being convicted in
the United States of felony offenses, according to ICE.

Those letters prevented the removal of the Armenian nationals to
their homeland.

The charge of obstructing ICE proceedings carries a maximum penalty
of five years in prison.

ICE agents said they executed search warrants at Lazarian’s law
office, Hovanesyan’s travel agency and Nardos’ residence and seized
incriminating evidence, including additional refusal letters and
official stationary from the Armenian consulate.

"The charges in this case allege that deportable aliens, some with
serious felony convictions, were able to remain in the United States,"
said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. "These defendants endangered
the safety and security of United States residents."

The defendants, "working essentially independently," obtained clients
by word of mouth in the Armenian community, court documents allege.

According to the criminal complaints, the defendants used contacts
in the Armenian government to procure official refusal letters on
behalf of their clients, and the letters were sent to ICE officials,
preventing the immigrants’ deportations, ICE reported.

The two-year investigation is ongoing.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS