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Company's Owner Pleads Guilty to Extortion

January 07, 1998

The owner of a Pomona furniture company has pleaded guilty to federal extortion charges for his role in the kidnapping of a business rival's father in Russia, authorities said.

Khatchik Khatchikian, 51, acknowledged participating in a scheme to extort a promissory note from Armen Babayan, owner of Ontario, Calif.-based Spartak Enterprises, prosecutors said.

Khatchikian, the owner of Marson Industries, faces a federal prison term of up to 20 years when he is sentenced in March.

In November 1996, three people kidnapped Spartak Babayan in Moscow, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Stephen Larson.

On the day of the abduction, Khatchikian told Armen Babayan that his father would be released after Armen signed the promissory note agreeing to pay his rival $550,000 within a year, the prosecutor said. Armen Babayan, who once worked for Khatchikian, signed the note, and his father was released after a day, Larson said.

The prosecutor said the charges are part of an ongoing investigation by federal and Russian authorities.

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