California couple sentenced for $20 million in COVID fraud
A California California couple was sentenced to prison for illegally obtaining more than $20 million in COVID-19 relief funds — but authorities need to catch them first.
Richard Ayvazyan, 43, was sentenced to 17 years behind bars and his wife, 37-year-old Marietta Terabelian, received a six-year sentence in federal prison on Monday for conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering, according to the Department of Justice.
The two are on the run from authorities and were sentenced in absentia.
Federal officials said they cut off their tracking bracelets on Aug. 29, federal officials said.
During the sentencing, US District Judge Stephen V. Wilson said he could not recall a fraud case conducted in such a “callous, intentional way without any regard for the law.”
Wilson described Ayvazyan as “an endemic, cold-hearted fraudster with no regard for the law” and someone who “views fraud as an achievement.”
The judge also sentenced Ayvazyan’s brother, Artur, 41, to five years in prison.
On June 25, a federal jury found Richard Ayvazyan, Artur Ayvazyan and Terabelian guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud, eight counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Richard Ayvazyan and his brother were also convicted of aggravated identity theft.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to the arrest of Richard Ayvazyan and Terabelian.
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