Couple convicted in $18M COVID-19 relief scam now on the run

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles couple who were convicted of helping steal $18 million in COVID-19 relief funds are on the lam after cutting off their ankle monitors, the FBI said.

Richard Ayvazyan, 43, and his wife, Marietta Terabelian, 37, are considered fugitives, an FBI tweet said Tuesday.

The couple, Ayvazyan’s brother and a Glendale man were convicted in June of scheming to submit phony loan applications for federal COVID-19 business relief funds. They were scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 4 and were potentially facing decades in federal prison.

Four other people had pleaded guilty to various charges in what prosecutors said was a scheme that involved using fake or stolen identities to apply for loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration to help businesses struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money obtained was used for down payments on luxury homes and to buy “gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, fine imported furnishings, designer handbags, clothing, and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle,” according to a June 29 announcement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

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