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D.A.'s Office Charges 26 in Welfare Fraud Totaling $1 Million

Courts: Some defendants collected assistance while owning property and buying luxury cars, prosecutors say.

June 18, 2002|ANDREW BLANKSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

More than two dozen people were charged with welfare fraud Monday for allegedly collecting public assistance totaling at least $1 million while owning homes and businesses and in some cases spending lavishly on luxury cars and vacations.

In all, 26 people were charged in 14 cases, according to Los Angeles County prosecutors. The suspects include residents of Beverly Hills, El Monte, Glendale, Long Beach, Rosemead and Van Nuys.

The amounts that authorities say were fraudulently collected ranged from $22,000 to $254,000. Many of the defendants face additional charges, including perjury, conspiracy, video piracy and, in one case, possession of a controlled substance, said district attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison.

In brief court appearances Monday, all but three of the defendants entered pleas of not guilty. The remaining suspects posted bond and will be arraigned later, Robison said.

Those charged include 11 Glendale residents identified as Alvard Bouniatian, 36; George Bouniatian, 45; Varoujan Derkskian, 61; Hovik Gharadaghi, 26; Khachik Gharadaghi, 51; Gloria Gutierrez, 38; Moses Hartounian, 51; Robik Hartounian, 29; Nvard Keshoyan, 53; Hossein Mehrabiani, 41; and Remik Telmi, 51.

Prosecutors also charged six residents of Beverly Hills. They were identified as Juliet Beroukhim, 43; Rahmatollah Efrahimi, 54; Yafa Shiriyan, 47; Yahya Elyaszadeh, 60; Fariba Yousefzadeh, 39; and Soleman Efrahimi, 49.

Other defendants included Sophon Chea, 52, Eang Meng, 49, and Sokha Mao, 29, all of Long Beach; Nastya Stambultsyan, 37, and Ogsen Stambultsyan, 43, both of Van Nuys; Linh Hue Tran, 39, and Phuong Tran, 46, both of Rosemead; and Phuong Duong, 48, and Xuong Trinh, 53, both of El Monte.

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