Wife pleads guilty to falsifying statement


Amber Willard

LOS ANGELES -- A Glendale woman tied to an alleged murder-for-hire

plot against her estranged husband pleaded guilty to making a false

statement to FBI officials.

Kristine Arutunyan, 30, also agreed in federal court Monday to testify

against two Glendale brothers, Garen and Archak Zakarian, who were

indicted in the alleged plot.

“She admitted lying during an interview about having a romantic

relationship with Archak. She didn’t want the investigators to follow

that up,” Assistant. U.S. Atty. Chris Johnson said Tuesday.

Johnson said Arutunyan told Archak Zakarian that her estranged

husband, Artur Simonian, was abusive toward her and her child and Archak

Zakarian told her he would “take care of” Simonian.

Arutunyan, who is free on bond, is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

Another element of the case, officials said, is that Arutunyan and

Simonian had been offered $50,000 to falsify testimony for Garen

Zakarian, who is serving an 85-year prison sentence for the 1994 robbery

of fellow Glendale travel agent Benita Mikhailian, who was shot to death

in her office. The false testimony would have aided Garen Zakarian in a

bid for a new trial, officials said.

Garen Zakarian was acquitted of murder charges in relation to

Mikhailian’s death in state court and a federal jury convicted him in

1996 of three counts of robbery in the case.

The trial for both Zakarians, who are charged with counts ranging from

using telephones in the commission of murder-for-hire to tampering with a

witness, is scheduled to start in January.