Armenian Power Member And Three Armenian Power Associates Convicted


Justice Department Documents and Publications
March 22, 2012

WASHINGTON — After a five week trial, four defendants have been
convicted for their roles in one of the largest bank fraud and identity
theft schemes in California history, with dozens of victims in four
states and millions of dollars in losses.

The convictions were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A.
Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney
Andre Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California, Assistant
Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office Steven
Martinez and Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS)
Joseph Beaty.

Arman Sharopetrosian, Karen Markosian, Artush Margaryan and Kristine
Ogandzhanyan were found guilty of conspiring to commit bank fraud,
attempted bank fraud and various counts of aggravated identity theft.

Sharopetrosian, Markosian and Ogandzhanyan waived a jury trial and
consented to trial by the judge, and Margaryan proceeded with a
jury trial.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter found Ogandzhanyan, 28,
of Burbank, Calif., guilty of one count of bank fraud conspiracy, two
counts of attempted bank fraud and four counts of aggravated identity
theft. On March 16, 2012, the judge found Sharopetrosian, 33, of
Burbank, guilty of one count of bank fraud conspiracy, four counts of
bank fraud and seven counts of aggravated identify theft. On March 16,
2012, the judge also found Markosian, 39, of Glendale, Calif., guilty
of one count of bank fraud conspiracy, one count of attempted bank
fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. A jury convicted
the fourth defendant, Artush Margaryan, 28, of Van Nuys, Calif.,
on March 16, 2012, of one count of bank fraud conspiracy, one count
of attempted bank fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

Evidence was presented at trial that Sharopetrosian is a member of
the Armenian Power organized crime group, and Margaryan, Markosian
and Ogandzhanyan are Armenian Power associates.

According to evidence presented at trial, Sharopetrosian directed
the massive fraud scheme along with co-defendant Angus Brown, while
the two were incarcerated at Avenal State Prison. Using cellular
telephones that were smuggled into the prison, Sharopetrosian and
Brown worked from behind bars to coordinate with others, including
Ogandzhanyn, Markosian and Margaryan, to obtain confidential bank
profile information and steal money from victim account holders. Often
targeting high-value bank accounts, the defendants used account
holders’ personal identifying information — including names, Social
Security numbers and dates of birth — to impersonate victims in
phone calls to the bank. The defendants gathered account information,
transferred funds between victims’ accounts and placed unauthorized
check orders for the accounts. They then stole the checks, obtained
the victims’ signatures from public documents and paid conspirators
to cash the forged checks. Over the course of the six-year conspiracy,
the defendants and their co-conspirators caused more than $10 million
dollars in losses to victims in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona
and Texas.

“These defendants, including two individuals who were operating from
a prison cell, perpetrated a massive fraudulent scheme on behalf of
a dangerous criminal enterprise,” said Assistant Attorney General
Breuer. “As members and associates of Armenian Power, they stole
sensitive personal and financial information from innocent consumers
and caused millions of dollars in losses. Whether organized criminal
groups traffic in drugs, commit financial fraud or wreak other havoc
to keep themselves going, they must be stopped. We are doing everything
possible to shut down dangerous gangs like Armenian Power.”

“The safety and sanctity of confidential financial information is
paramount in today’s society,” said U.S. Attorney Birotte. “Identity
theft is a fundamental invasion of consumer privacy that cannot be
tolerated. These convictions demonstrate that violators, whoever and
wherever they may be, will be caught and will be prosecuted to the
fullest extent of the federal law.”

“The defendants were convicted in a trial that uncovered a
sophisticated and lengthy scheme that targeted victims in multiple
states, and included disturbing details, such as orders made from
within prison walls and assistance from bank insiders enlisted by the
defendants,” said FBI Assistant Director Martinez. “This case is also
indicative of the growing trend of gang or organized crime-affiliated
groups now engaging in identity theft and other financial crimes in
furtherance of their enterprise.”

These defendants are four of 20 defendants who were charged with
operating the bank fraud and identity theft scheme in one of a series
of federal indictments unsealed on Feb. 16, 2011. The indictments
allege various federal crimes against members and associates of the
Armenian Power criminal organization. To date, 19 of the 20 defendants
charged in the bank fraud indictment have been convicted, including
Brown. One defendant, Faye Bell, was arrested earlier this year and
is still awaiting trial.

Sharopetrosian, Margaryan, Markosian and Ogandzhanyan face maximum
sentences of 30 years in federal prison for each count of bank
fraud, 30 years for each count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and
additional mandatory two year sentences for each count of aggravated
identity theft.

Sentencing for all four defendants is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2012,
before Judge Carter.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Martin Estrada
and Joseph McNally of the Central District of California and Trial
Attorney Cristina Moreno of the Organized Crime and Gang Section in
the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. The case was investigated
by the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, which includes the FBI,
the USSS, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Glendale Police
Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Internal Revenue
Service and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

From: Baghdasarian

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