Two Men Convicted in Armenian Power Case, Each Sentenced to Quarter Century in Federal Prison for Orchestrating Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 28, 2012|
SANTA ANA, CA—Two men who orchestrated an elaborate identity theft scheme from behind the walls of a state prison were sentenced today by a federal judge who ordered both men to spend 25 years in federal prison.
The two men were the lead defendants in one of two federal indictments that targeted the Armenian Power gang two years ago. According to the fraud indictment issued by a grand jury in Orange County, members of Armenian Power worked with members of African-American street gangs and bribed bank insiders to gather information that allowed them to take over bank accounts in a scheme that caused losses of at least $8 million.
Today in federal court, United States District Judge David O. Carter sentenced the masterminds of the Orange County scheme and said this case involved one of the most sophisticated fraud schemes he had ever seen.
The two defendants sentenced today were:
- Angus Brown, also known as “Homicide,” 36, who is described in court papers as a “career criminal and identity thief” with numerous prior conviction and was serving time for identity theft when he engaged in the identity theft scheme that led to this case; and
- Arman Sharopetrosian, also known as “Horse,” 33, of Burbank, a member of the Armenian Power criminal enterprise who was serving a 10-year sentence for shooting at an occupied vehicle and carrying a concealed weapon when he committed the federal fraud offense.
Brown and Sharopetrosian were convicted earlier this year of leading the identity theft ring from Avenal State Prison. Brown and Sharopetrosian were the main defendants in an indictment unsealed in early 2011 that charged 20 defendants for their roles in the conspiracy that targeted hundreds of victims and caused millions of dollars in losses.
According to court documents and the evidence presented at Sharopetrosian’s trial last spring, Sharopetrosian and Brown organized a scheme that misappropriated bank information from primarily elderly victims and then forged victims’ signatures and deposited high-dollar checks into accounts set up by members of the conspiracy. The scheme recruited bank insiders to target individual bank accounts and to illegally obtain confidential personal and financial information. Prosecutors argued that the defendants intentionally targeted older victims who would be less likely to become aware that their identities were being compromised. In court papers, prosecutors wrote that the defendants’ “express purpose was to target bank customers with large-value accounts who were not proficient in checking up on their accounts via the Internet” and that they “sought to use that information to plunder the victims’ life savings.”
In March 2012, Sharopetrosian was found guilty of one count of bank fraud conspiracy, four counts of bank fraud, and seven counts of aggravated identify fraud.
Sharopetrosian was also named in a racketeering indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles that targeted the Armenian Power gang. Sharopetrosian is pending trial in that case.
Brown pleaded guilty in December 2011 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud conspiracy, bank fraud, and 17 counts of aggravated identity theft.
All 20 defendants named in the fraud indictment have been convicted, and most of them are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Carter in the coming months. The several other defendants already sentenced have received sentences of up to 51 months in prison.
The case was investigated by members of the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Glendale Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.