Couple Abandons 3 Children After Stealing Millions In Covid-19 Relief Funds: ‘We Will Be Together Again One Day’

Richard Ayvazyan and his wife, Marietta Terabelian are facing prison after conducting a massive covid-19 relief fraud scheme and abandoning their three teenage children.

The couple cut off their electronic tracking bracelets and fled their Califonia home — leaving their three teen children in late August.

Couple Abandons 3 Children After Stealing Millions In Covid-19 Relief Funds
Image via FBI

The couple left a typewritten note for the kids, ages 13, 15 and 16.”We will be together again one day. This is not a goodbye but a brief break from each other.”

And now, three months later — and five months after their convictions in June — the couple still has yet to be found. Currently, the FBI continues to search for them. But that did not stop a judge this week from sentencing Ayvazyan, 43, and Terabelian, 37, in absentia to 17 and six years in prison, respectively.

Prosecutors said they and others carried stole over $20 million in covid-19 relief funds intended for small businesses during the pandemic.

“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,” said US Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison.

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The couple and Ayvazyan’s brother, Artur Ayvazyan, 41, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering at a trial in June. 

Richard Ayvazyan and his brother were also convicted of aggravated identity theft.

Per court documents and evidence presented at trial, they used fake or stolen identities — including the names of dead people and foreign exchange students who briefly visited the US years ago — to submit fraudulent applications for approximately 150 federal pandemic covid-19 relief loans for sham businesses in San Fernando Valley.

And to support the fraudulent loan applications, they submitted fake identity documents along with falsified tax forms and payroll records to lenders and the Small Business Administration according to federal prosecutors.

Couple Abandons 3 Children After Stealing Millions In Covid-19 Relief Funds_ 'We Will Be Together Ag
Image via FBI

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“When our nation was at its most vulnerable, these individuals thought only about lining their own pockets,” said a special agent in the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Office’s Ryan L. Korner after this week’s sentencing.

“These sentences reflect the seriousness of these crimes.”

Ashwin J. Ram, an attorney for the elder Ayvazyan, revealed he wanted the hearing delayed until if and when they resurfaced.

The couple’s three children are under the care of their grandmothers and a court-appointed guardian, Ram said.

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