Attorney hit with more fraud charges

Prosecutors on Wednesday filed additional charges against a Glendale attorney who already faces 38 counts in connection with a 2009 auto insurance fraud investigation.

The attorney, John Akopian, 39, was charged with nine more counts of insurance fraud in a case in which he allegedly filed bogus claims for staged collisions, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

He also faces an enhanced charge of aggravated while-collar crime.

Akopian, along with a group of chiropractors and attorneys, were charged in October 2009 in connection with defrauding 15 insurance companies. Prosecutors charged 89 people in connection with defrauding more than $500,000 from insurance companies, Deputy Dist. Atty. Gregory Alker said.

“It has been unfolding for a long time,” he said.

Akopian has already been charged with grand theft of personal property, money laundering, insurance fraud, possessing an assault weapon and receiving stolen property.

Three Glendale residents — Vegen Vartanian, 58, Maro Srooshkani, 53, and Vahe Vartanian, 27 — were also arrested on Wednesday in connection with the scheme.

Prosecutors charged the men with one felony count each of insurance fraud, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.

They allegedly conspired with Akopian to defraud an insurance company out of more than $74,000, which was paid out for a “paper collision” that occurred in May 2007, according to the county district attorney’s office.

Alker described “paper collisions” as fraudulent crashes in which drivers damage their own vehicles to look like they were in accidents and then file false insurance claims.

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