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2 Men to Serve Year at Home for Law School Exam Caper

March 25, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Two would-be law students sentenced to a year in custody for an elaborate law-school exam cheating scheme will serve their time at home instead of jail, a judge ruled Friday.

Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler agreed to allow Danny Khatchaturian, 24, of La Canada Flintridge, and Dikran Iskendarian, 23, of Glendale, to serve their terms under home monitoring.

"They will serve the full year, and they will pay for the home monitoring themselves," said Sandi Gibbons, a district attorney spokeswoman. "This happened over our objection."

The pair pleaded no contest last November to felony charges stemming from the February 1997 scheme, in which an accomplice stole the Law School Admissions Test booklet from a testing center at the University of Southern California.

A grand jury indictment issued in December 1998 alleged Khatchaturian paid $600 to Ashot Melikyan, 24, of Glendale, to swipe the LSAT. Melikyan grabbed the test booklet, bolted from the room and managed to get away after pulling a knife on the proctor, according to the indictment.

Melikyan turned the test over to an unidentified man, who transmitted the answers to Khatchaturian and Iskendarian via pagers as they took the test at the University of Hawaii-Manoa Testing Center. Their exam scores placed them in the 99th percentile--the top 150 of about 19,000 test takers that day.

Melikyan pleaded guilty to a robbery charge. He spent a year in county jail and is now on three years' probation. Khatchaturian and Iskendarian must also serve five years' probation and, along with Melikyan, pay nearly $97,000 in restitution to the Law School Admissions Council.

Meanwhile, the judge has pointed out that the pair's felony convictions prevent them from becoming attorneys.

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