Federal Judge David O. Carter had a wild case in his Santa Ana courtroom this week, one involving Armenian Power gang members in prison, African-American gang members on the outside, bank insiders, uh, inside banks and one of the most sophisticated identity theft fraud schemes the veteran jurist has ever seen.
Total losses: $8 million.
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Meet Angus Brown, not the kid who admittedly spreads "filth" on Two and a Half Men but a 36-year-old "career criminal and identity theif," according to the feds, with numerous prior convictions, including identity theft, which stuck him in the joint. Oh, and his nickname is "Homicide."
Now meet Brown's buddy, Arman Sharopetrosian, who is not the late former president of the University of La Verne (three people will get that one) but a 33-year-old out of Burbank, although his current residence is prison, which is where he was sent for 10 years for having shot into an occupied vehicle and having carried a concealed weapon. His nickname is "Horse."
The Orange County Grand Jury had indicted the pair two years ago for masterminding the fraud scheme from Avenal State Prison. The way it worked was, first, bank information was misappropriated, primarily from elderly people. Next, the victims' signatures were forged on high-dollar checks deposited into the thieves' accounts.
How did they find their marks? That's where the handsomely paid bank insiders came in. They were instructed to target mostly older people who would be less likely to notice money missing (they don't know the old people I know) or that their identities had been compromised. These victims also had high-value accounts.
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In all, 20 people were named in the indictments, and all 20 have been convicted, according to the U.S. Attorney. My colleague R. Scott Moxley told you about others sentenced before the masterminds.
Carter on Wednesday tacked on an additional 25 years to Brown and Sharpopetrosian's respective prison stretches. "Homicide" had pleaded guilty in December 2011 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud conspiracy, bank fraud and 17 counts of aggravated identity theft. "Horse" was found guilty in March of one count of bank fraud conspiracy, four counts of bank fraud and seven counts of aggravated identify fraud. Sharopetrosian also has a pending racketeering trial courtesy of a separate federal grand jury indictment in Los Angeles.
We can now plead guilty to finding Armenians worse than the Kardashians. Well, slightly.