Federal Court in downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles federal courthouse. MyNewsLA.com photo by John Schreiber.

Expanding a case in which four San Fernando Valley residents were indicted last year, four additional defendants are facing charges of taking part in a scheme to submit more than 150 fraudulent loan applications that netted at least $18 million in COVID-19 relief funds used to buy homes and make other luxury purchases, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Three of the new defendants were arrested Thursday as the result of a 33-count superseding indictment that charges a total of eight defendants with using fake, stolen or synthetic identities to submit fraudulent applications for loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration through the Economic Injury Disaster Relief Program and the Paycheck Protection Program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The three defendants arrested Thursday are: Manuk Grigoryan, 27, of Sun Valley; Edvard Paronyan, 40, of Granada Hills; and Vahe Dadyan, 41, of Glendale. All three were arraigned on the superseding indictment Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

During court appearances that continued into the evening, a magistrate judge released all three on bond and ordered them to stand trial on May 4.

A fourth new defendant charged in the superseding indictment — Arman Hayrapetyan, 38, of Glendale — is still being sought by federal authorities.

The superseding indictment, which was filed on Tuesday, adds the four new defendants to an indictment filed in November that led to the arrests of co-defendants Richard Ayvazyan and his wife, Marietta Terabelian, and brother, Artur Ayvazyan, and Artur’s wife, Tamara Dadyan, all of Encino.

According to the updated indictment, the eight defendants conspired together, and with others, as part of a disaster-relief loan fraud ring that submitted fraudulent loan applications that often included fake identity documents, tax documents and payroll records.

The eight defendants “submitted and caused the submission of at least 151 fraudulent PPP and EIDL loan applications seeking a total of at least $21.9 million in PPP and EIDL proceeds from the SBA and at least 11 financial institutions, and received a total of at least $18 million in PPP and EIDL loan proceeds from the SBA and financial institutions,” the indictment alleges.

The defendants allegedly used the fraudulently obtained funds as down-payments on luxury homes in Tarzana, Glendale and Palm Desert. They also used the funds to buy gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, fine imported furnishings, designer handbags and clothing, cryptocurrency, and securities, according to the indictment.

All of the defendants named in the superseding indictment are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each defendant is named in various other counts in the indictments which allege wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

The indictment alleges that Richard Ayvazyan and Tamara Dadyan committed crimes after they were released on bond. It is further alleged that Richard Ayvazyan continued to use his alias “Iuliia Zhadko” to launder the proceeds of the scheme, including by using the money to buy cryptocurrency and securities. Tamara Dadyan is accused of repeatedly lying to a bank as part of a scheme to unlawfully obtain disaster-relief funds that had been frozen in an account that she had fraudulently opened using a stolen identity.

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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