Couple Convicted Of Stealing Millions In COVID Relief Funds Abandons 3 Children, Vanishes Prior To Sentencing
A husband and wife facing prison time for their role in a massive COVID relief fund scheme have disappeared, abandoning their three teenage children and leaving the FBI searching in their wake.
Richard Ayvazyan and his wife, Marietta Terabelian (both pictured, above), were sentenced this week to 17 and 6 years in prison, respectively, after prosecutors in Los Angeles successfully argued that they and several others carried out a scheme to take COVID relief funds meant to help small businesses during the pandemic.
So where’s Kanye‘s prosecution, are we right? In all seriousness, this isn’t about getting disproportionate “help” for a not-at-all-small business that shouldn’t qualify. It’s straight up fraud. And they got a lot. More than $20 million, according to prosecutors.
Before they could be sentenced, though, the couple cut off their electronic tracking bracelets, fled their home, and left behind their three children, ages 13, 15, and 16. According to CNN, the duo “left a typewritten note for the kids.”
In what prosecutors have said is the first case of its kind to go to trial, the 43-year-old Ayvazyan and his 37-year-old wife Terabelian were prosecuted for a scheme in which they used fake and stolen identities to submit fraudulent applications for COVID relief funds in the Los Angeles area. Investigators claim the pair ran that scheme more than 150 times throughout the San Fernando Valley.
Prior to being sentenced this week — the judge did it in absentia, anyways, and sentenced them to their aforementioned combined 23 years in prison — the couple vanished. According to the FBI, the duo disappeared back in August (three months ago!!), and hasn’t been heard from since, despite a $20,000 reward being offered for information leading to their capture.
The only trace the pair left behind was the note to their three teenagers, which read in part (below):
“We will be together again one day. This is not a goodbye but a brief break from each other.”
US Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison outlined the gravity of their crimes, telling CNN (below):
“The defendants used the COVID-19 crisis to steal millions of dollars in much-needed government aid intended for people and businesses suffering from the economic effects of the worst pandemic in a century.”
Ryan L. Korner, a special agent for the IRS, added:
“When our nation was at its most vulnerable, these individuals thought only about lining their own pockets. These sentences reflect the seriousness of these crimes.”
Yeah. If only the sentences could be served…
Richard’s brother, 41-year-old Artur Ayvazyan, and his wife were also found guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering during a trial back in June. Artur was sentenced to five years in prison; his wife will be sentenced in December. Five other co-conspirators were reportedly involved in the scheme, as well, with some receiving sentences between probation and several years of prison time.
According to reports, the three teenagers left behind were in court this week to witness their parents and uncle being sentenced by the judge — while their parents were presumably on a beach somewhere sipping mai tais. Following their parents’ disappearance, the children are now reportedly currently under the care of their grandmothers and “a court-appointed guardian.”
And now, the FBI is continuing to investigate the whereabouts of Richard Ayvazyan and his wife, Marietta Terabelian. We wish them the best of luck — the type of people who see a pandemic as an opportunity to scam money off those in need really are the lowest of the low.
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