Glendale attorney charged with attempted extortion in shooting case

It started with a triple shooting at a North Hollywood body shop in April 2014.

Two brothers, Robert and Akop “Jack” Torosian, the latter of which owns Papillon International Bakery in Glendale, had gotten into a business dispute with the shop’s owner, Hrach Gasparyan, and another man, Hrut Fitilchyan, which resulted in a shootout that left three of them hospitalized, according to Los Angeles police and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Both Torosian brothers were arrested, but just one, Akop, was charged in connection with the crime.

To this day, there are conflicting accounts about who the aggressor was in the shooting, according to someone with knowledge of the case.

Akop Torosian, whose bakery was honored in June by Assemblyman Mike Gatto as small business of the year, was — and still is — facing two counts each of attempted murder and assault with a semiautomatic firearm. These charges carry a sentence of up to life in state prison.

But last November, Armen Tashjian, the Glendale attorney representing two of the men who were shot, allegedly made an offer to Robert Torosian.

For $2 million, the criminal case against his brother could go away.

With that money, Tashjian’s clients — Gasparyan and Fitilchyan — would either leave the country or keep quiet on the stand.

“(Gasparyan) will take the stand and say … I don’t remember, I didn’t see anything, I don’t know who shot who,” Tashjian allegedly told Robert Torosian last November, court records show.

Investigators were privy to the alleged shakedown, though the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined to discuss its investigation techniques.

Three months later, Tashjian reportedly emailed the bribe offer to Akop Torosian’s defense attorney Daniel Behesnilian, who when reached Thursday declined to comment on the case.

This week, 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.

When reached by phone Thursday, the body shop owner said he was shot once in the arm the day of the shooting, but could not remember additional details. He added that investigators recently served a search warrant at his home and business.

Fitilchyan, the other man involved in the shooting, meanwhile, could not be immediately reached for comment.

According to the district attorney’s office, neither Gasparyan nor Fitilchyan have been charged with any crimes, nor are they under investigation.

Tashjian is slated to be arraigned next month.

When reached via email, the attorney said he had not yet seen the allegations against him and was therefore unable to comment.

“Please know I will defend myself to the fullest,” he added.


Alene Tchekmedyian,

Twitter: @atchek