Thirty-three people have been indicted in a wide-ranging scam to sell more than $150 million in illegal pharmaceuticals in California and several other states, federal prosecutors in San Francisco announced Thursday.
Officials said Ara Karapedyan, 45; Mihran Stepanyan, 29; and Artur Stepanyan, 38, were central to the conspiracy, which involved the selling illegally obtained drugs to a Minnesota company that sold the drugs wholesale.
David Miller, a 50-year-old Santa Ana resident and head of the Minnesota Independent Cooperative, bought approximately $157 million in drugs from the Stepanyans through various shell companies from 2010 to 2014, according to a statement released by the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California.
The drugs included painkillers and other medications used to treat HIV or cancer, prosecutors said.
Mihran Stepanyan is a Glendale resident who owns a North Hollywood company called Niva Pharmaceuticals. His cousin Artur also lives in Glendale, according to a copy of the indictment unsealed Thursday.
Karapedyan, a Northridge resident who owns a North Hollywood pizzeria, allegedly supplied the Stepanyans with drugs and made several unlicensed street sales of painkillers and HIV drugs to other co-defendants, according to the indictment.
A separate indictment, unsealed Thursday in Ohio, charges Miller and the Stepanyans with procuring and selling illegal drugs there, prosecutors said.
Karapedyan and another defendant, Gevork Ter-Mkrtchyan, were also charged in a murder-for-hire plot as part of the indictment. The pair made "several attempts" to find someone willing to kill an unidentified person who had angered Ter-Mkrtchyan, prosecutors said. While they paid $1,500 for the execution, it did not actually take place, prosecutors said.