At-Large Fugitive Couple Sentenced for $20 Million in Coronavirus Relief Fraud

A pair of gloves lie on the floor, after been used to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in Tegucigalpa, on March 26, 2020. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP via Getty Images)
ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP via Getty Images

Two fugitives from justice were sentenced to federal prison in absentia on Monday “for fraudulently obtaining tens of millions of dollars” in coronavirus relief, the Justice Department announced.

Richard Ayvazyan, 43, and his wife Marietta Terabelian, 37, were sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Central District Court of California for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud, and bank fraud, the Justice Department announced in a Tuesday press release. 

The couple schemed “to fraudulently obtain more than $20 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) COVID-19 relief funds,” according to the release. 

Ayvazyan received 17 years in federal prison, while Terabelian was sentenced to six years. Ayvazyan’s brother, 41-year-old Artur Ayvazyan, was also sentenced to five years on Monday for his role in the fraud operation. 

The Justice Department wrote in its press release:

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the defendants used dozens of fake, stolen or synthetic identities – including names belonging to elderly or deceased people and foreign exchange students who briefly visited the United States years ago and never returned – to submit fraudulent applications for approximately 150 PPP and EIDL loans.

Judge Stephen V. Wilson sentenced the three defendants and stated that he could not remember a fraud case carried out in such a “callous, intentional way without any regard for the law.” Wilson characterized Richard Ayvazyan as “an endemic, cold-hearted fraudster with no regard for the law” and an individual who “views fraud as an achievement,” the release states. 

A jury found the couple and Ayvazyan’s brother guilty on June 25 and three days later on June 28, “the jury further found that Richard Ayvazyan and Terabelian must forfeit bank accounts, jewelry, watches, gold coins, three residential properties and approximately $450,000 in cash,” according to the Justice Department’s press release. 

According to the announcement, Richard Ayvazyan and Terabelian are considered fugitives from justice following their disappearance in the months after the jury’s guilty verdict, as Breitbart News previously reported. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to their arrests.

On August 29, while awaiting sentencing, the husband and wife allegedly cut their tracking bracelets and went on the lam, according to officials.  

Richard Ayvazyan was born in Armenia and has “has previously resided in Tarzana, Los Angeles, Encino, and North Hills, California,” according to his FBI wanted poster. “He may be driving either a white 2004 Toyota Camry with California license plates 5JYK335 or a white Range Rover with California license plates 7ZAB185,” the wanted poster states.

Terabelian was born in Los Angeles, California, and her poster notes that “she has previously resided in Los Angeles, Encino, and North Hills, California.” The poster says she could potentially be driving the same Range Rover or Toyota Camry as her husband.

Those with information regarding the case or the whereabouts of the fugitive couple are encouraged to reach out to their “local FBI office, or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate,” according to the FBI.

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