Los Angeles COVID fraud fugitives extradited from Montenegro

A pair of Los Angeles convicts who escaped to a European lifetime of luxurious underneath pretend names after working a pandemic fraud ring have been extradited Thursday from Montenegro to the US, Montenegrin authorities mentioned.

Brokers from the U.S. Marshals Service took custody of fugitives Richard Ayvazyan and Marietta Terabelian on the airport in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, native police mentioned.

The couple, who deserted their three teenage youngsters on the Tarzana mansion they purchased partly with stolen COVID aid funds, have been captured in February within the small mountainous nation simply up the Adriatic coast from Greece.

They’d flown there in a non-public jet utilizing solid Mexican passports and have been residing underneath false identities in a seaside villa with a pool on the scenic Bay of Kotor.

Ayvazyan and Terabelian have been convicted in June 2021 of conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud and associated federal crimes for stealing rescue loans meant for small companies struggling to outlive at first of the coronavirus pandemic.

With six accomplices, they utilized for 151 loans to primarily sham companies within the San Fernando Valley, utilizing fictitious payrolls and solid tax returns to safe loans in a rip-off that yielded $18 million.

Ayvazyan was sentenced in absentia final 12 months to 17 years in jail, and Terabelian, six years.

Their rip-off was one of the vital lurid by swindlers who took benefit of the federal government’s rush to provide companies trillions of {dollars} in pandemic aid. The Justice Division has charged greater than 1,500 folks in COVID fraud instances that whole greater than $1.1 billion.

After slicing off their ankle monitoring bracelets and fleeing in August 2021, Ayvazyan and Terabelian lived quietly for practically six months as Roberto Niko De Leon and Nataly Rose Perez Garcia in Tivat, a Montenegrin village identified for its luxurious outlets and super-yacht harbor.

The FBI found they have been in Montenegro when Ayvazyan tried to withdraw funds from one of many financial institution accounts he had arrange for a pretend enterprise within the COVID rip-off.

Richard Ayvazyan and Marietta Terabelian lived on this villa on the outskirts of Tivat.

(Milos Vujovic)

Montenegrin police arrested Terabelian in a Tivat salon whereas she was getting hair extensions, then discovered Ayvazyan hours later at a resort in Budva, a nightlife hub close by.

Additionally they arrested Tamara Dadyan, a 3rd fugitive within the COVID swindle, who was on the resort with Ayvazyan, her brother-in-law. Montenegrin police mentioned they’d no info to launch on the pending U.S. request for Dadyan’s extradition.

U.S. authorities didn’t instantly reply to requests for affirmation of the extradition of Ayvazyan and Terabelian.