Local lawyer accused of attempted extortion pleads not guilty
A Glendale attorney pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he attempted to extort $2 million from the brother of a bakery owner who had been suspected of shooting two of the attorney’s clients, officials said.
Armen Tashjian was representing two victims in a triple shooting that occurred at a North Hollywood body shop in April 2014.
Akop “Jack” Torosian, owner of the popular Papillon International Bakery in Glendale, had gotten into an argument with one of them, Harut Fitilchyan, after Fitilchyan was late to a meeting, Fitilchyan has said in the past.
Torosian showed up at the North Hollywood body shop where Fitilchyan was at the time, then left, returning an hour later with his brother, Fitilchyan said.
“He came back with a gun. That’s when I got shot,” Fitilchyan said, adding that he was holding a cup of coffee at the time. The body shop owner fired back, and three people — Fitilchyan, the body shop owner and Torosian’s brother — were injured.
In December, a judge convicted Torosian of one count of possessing a deadly weapon with the intent to commit assault and sentenced him to three years of probation. The remaining charges against him, which included two counts each of attempted murder and assault with a semiautomatic firearm, were dropped.
Before the criminal case was resolved, Tashjian allegedly attempted to shake down Torosian’s brother to the tune of $2 million. In exchange for the money, Tashjian allegedly offered that his clients would either leave the country or keep quiet on the stand.
In November, Tashjian was charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit the crime of offering to receive a bribe, attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to commit an act injurious to the public, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.
Tashjian’s attorney, Mark Brandt, could not immediately be reached.
Tashjian is due back in court next month.
Alene Tchekmedyian, firstname.lastname@example.org