Eight people, including four who live in Burbank, Glendale and Montrose, pleaded guilty Monday to various charges, including racketeering conspiracy, bank fraud and identity theft, centered around the activities of an Armenian organized crime ring, authorities said.
The eight are among the 70 people charged two years ago during a massive regional crackdown against the gang called Armenian Power. Fifty-one other defendants have pleaded guilty, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.
Two of the defendants who pleaded guilty Monday – identified by authorities as Khachatur “Khecho” Arakelyan, 39, and Adam Davoodian, 32 – lived in Glendale, while two others lived in Burbank and Montrose, respectively, the document states.
Arakelyan pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft for his involvement in secretly planting credit card skimming devices at 99 Cents Only stores across Southern California.
The scheme caused hundreds of victims to lose more than $2 million. Arakelyan faces up to two years in prison.
Davoodian pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana for distribution and faces up to 20 years in prison.
Montrose resident Raymond “Rye” Tarverdyan, 35, who was also reportedly involved in the skimming scheme, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and bank fraud and faces up to 50 years in prison.
Burbank resident Artur “Cham” Pembejian, 36, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy after abetting the illegal possession of a firearm by a gang leader, according to the document. Pembejian faces up to 20 years in prison.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in November.
Armenian Power, which formed in East Hollywood in the 1980s, is believed to have more than 250 documented members and hundreds of associates, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
-- Alene Tchekmedyian, firstname.lastname@example.org