Four men from the San Fernando Valley or nearby have been added to a federal fraud case, accused of involvement in a ring that illegally obtained at least $18 million from COVID-relief programs last year, authorities said on Friday, March 12.
Eight defendants are now accused of using fake or stolen identities to submit applications for loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Relief and the Paycheck Protection programs under the CARES Act, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
All eight face charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering and aggravated identity theft, Mrozek said.
The group is accused of working together and submitting more than 150 loan applications seeking nearly $22 million from March to August 2020, Mrozek said.
They received at least $18 million, part of which they used for down payments on luxury homes in Tarzana, Glendale and Palm Desert, federal authorities say, and for purchases of such items as gold coins, diamonds, jewelry and luxury watches.
Arrested Thursday were Manuk Grigoryan, 27, of Sun Valley; Edvard Paronyan, 40, of Granada Hills; and Vahe Dadyan, 41, of Glendale. They were released on bond.
Their attorneys were not immediately available to comment or declined to discuss the case.
Arman Hayrapetyan, 38, of Glendale was still being sought by authorities.
The other four defendants were arrested by federal authorities in October and November and released after making their initial court appearances.
The conspiracy and bank fraud charges each carry a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison. The wire fraud counts each could lead to a sentence of up to 20 years.
The CARES Act was enacted a year ago to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.