(VIDEO)100 Members of Armenian Power Charged with Bank Fraud, Kidnapping, Racketeering

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United States Attorney for the Central District of California Andre Birotte Jr. announced that law enforcement authorities this morning arrested 74 members and associates of the Armenian Power organized crime group during a press conference at the Glendale Police Department.

One hundred and two members and associates of ArmenianPower criminal group operating in the United States have been charged in indictments unsealed today in Los Angeles; Santa Ana, Calif.; Miami and Denver.   Today, teams of federal, state and local authorities have arrested more than 80 of the 102 charged defendants, with arrests expected to continue throughout the day

“Today’s indictments allege literally hundreds of criminal acts in three states – from extortion and kidnapping to firearms trafficking and health care fraud,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.   “The common denominator among these defendants and their criminal enterprises is the use of violence and intimidation to commit crimes for profit.   But we are determined to fight back.   In less than one month, the Justice Department has announced the largest one-day takedown against La Cosa Nostra, coordinated a nationwide gang takedown and, today, arrested more than 80 Armenian Power members, associates and others with ties to organized crime.   These groups bring fear into our communities, defraud innocent victims, and put the safety and security of our neighborhoods at risk.   We are taking an aggressive stand against these organized criminal groups and will continue our efforts to put them out of business.”

In Los Angeles, two indictments charge 88 defendants with a wide variety of violent and fraud-related crimes.   The alleged crimes include kidnapping, extortion, assault, witness intimidation, bank fraud, credit card fraud and drug distribution.   Numerous defendants are alleged to be members and associates of Armenian Power (AP), a racketeering enterprise with a significant presence in Los Angeles.

A 134-count indictment (U.S. v. Darbinyan, et al) charges 29 of its 70 defendants with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, and alleges a host of illegal activities, including fraud schemes involving identify theft, credit card skimming and manufacturing of counterfeit checks.   The financial fraud crimes allegedly committed on behalf of AP were highly sophisticated, targeting thousands of victims and resulting in millions of dollars of actual and intended losses to banks and individual victims.

Among the schemes charged in the Darbinyan indictment is a bank fraud and counterfeit credit card scheme that victimized hundreds of customers of 99 Cents Only Stores throughout Southern California when AP members and associates allegedly installed sophisticated “skimming” devices to steal customer account information.   According to the Darbinyan indictment, these devices gave the AP members information, which they used to create counterfeit debit cards and credit cards, and steal thousands of dollars from the accounts.

The second California indictment (U.S. v. Sharopetrosian, et al) was returned by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana and charges 20 defendants, two of whom are also charged in the Darbinyan indictment.   In addition to alleging schemes similar to those alleged in the Darbinyan indictment, the Sharopetrosian indictment alleges that AP members engaged in a bank fraud scheme that targeted elderly and vulnerable victims.   Members of AP allegedly joined with members of other gangs and allegedly obtained confidential information about bank accounts. The conspirators paid bank insiders for the confidential information, which included social security numbers and passwords used to access the accounts. According to the indictment, the conspirators then used that information to take control of the bank accounts and stole at least $10 million from hundreds of accounts.

Also today, in a related case, 13 defendants were charged in three indictments unsealed in Miami with extortion conspiracy, credit card fraud, money laundering, smuggling of firearms and health care fraud, among other crimes.   According to the Miami court documents, several of the defendants maintain associations with members and associates of AP as well as with a “thief-in-law” who was arrested in the Southern District of New York in October 2010.  According to court documents, Aram Khranyan, 41, of Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., was the “overseer” of the extortion conspiracies and maintains strong ties to Armenia and Russia.

In addition, according to court documents, Khranyan entered into a false marriage with Mira Shatkhin, 35, of Sunny Isles Beach, in order to obtain permanent legal status in the United States.   Three defendants (Andranik Itchmelyan, 48, of Davie, Fla.; Gegam Kalashyan, 41, of Hallandale Beach, Fla.; and Vladimir Okun, 44, of Davie) also are charged with transporting numerous firearms in 2009 from the United States to Yerevan, Armenia, without obtaining the appropriate license to do so.

Two indictments unsealed today in Miami allege health care fraud schemes running from 2007 to the present.   The first health care fraud indictment charges three defendants (Andranik Itchmelyan, 48; Anahit Karapetyan, 40 of Davie; and Frank Rodriguez, 52, of North Miami Beach, Fla.) with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and substantive counts of health care fraud in connection with their ownership and operation of Hallandale Medical Associates Inc.  The second health care fraud indictment charges another three defendants (Vladimir Okun; Andrey Schegolev, 49, of Hollywood, Fla; Harvey Lerfelt, 51 of North Miami Beach) with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and substantive counts of health care fraud in connection with their ownership and operation of Family Chiropractic Center Inc.   Both of these clinics allegedly paid individuals to refer “patients” of staged accidents. The clinics billed private insurance carriers for treatments that were either not medically necessary or were not provided.

Finally, in an indictment unsealed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Nadezda Nikitina, 24, of Denver, was charged with conspiring with others to make false statements to the United States on credit and loan applications.   The indictment charges that Nikitina, acting under the control of a transnational criminal group, established a shell company and then used that shell company to apply for business and personal credit cards, car loans and leases, consumer loans and a home equity loan.   In those credit applications, Nikitina allegedly claimed that she was the owner or an employee of the company.   The indictment charges that Nikitina and her co-conspirators would conduct little activity on the credit card accounts and then go on a spending splurge, or “bust out” the lines of credit up to and over the credit limits on her various accounts.   The indictment also charges Nikitina with 10 counts of false statements on credit and loan applications, bank fraud and wire fraud.

These cases are being prosecuted separately and independently of each other.   The Los Angeles cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys E. Martin Estrada, Sarah Levitt, Stephen G. Wolfe and Joseph McNally, as well as Trial Attorney Cristina Moreno of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section (OCRS). The Miami cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Huynh and Cynthia Stone, as well as OCRS Trial Attorney Margaret Honrath and Trial Attorney Constantine Lizas of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.   The Denver case is being prosecuted by OCRS Trial Attorneys Robert S. Tully and Joe Wheatley.

Names of Armenian Power members cracked down over 20 million fraud charges

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2 Responses

  1. Well at least they’re caught now. Things like this often go undetected. Armenians like this give a bad name for the other ones who live clean, educated, respectable lives.

  2. Gangs are like little governments within a government they both steal,cheat,and cover each others rear end

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