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Idaho Man Is Named as a Kidnap Victim

Law: Businessman was abducted after trying to hire two Valley men charged in ransom plot that killed five people, federal officials say.

June 28, 2002|RICHARD FAUSSET | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Idaho man in the market for a pair of killers tried to hire two men now charged in an alleged Los Angeles-area kidnapping plot--and ended up being kidnapped himself, federal authorities said Thursday.

Twin Falls businessman Armen Gyurdzhiyants, 25, met with Iouri Mikhel of Encino and Jurijus Kadamovas of Sherman Oaks in November to discuss killing an undercover law enforcement officer who had helped arrest Gyurdzhiyants' brother in a drug sting, officials said.

Instead, the two men decided to kidnap Gyurdzhiyants, holding him until relatives paid an undisclosed amount as ransom, U.S. attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said.

Kadamovas, Mikhel and three other suspects are facing possible death sentences for their alleged roles in a scheme that federal authorities say involved snatching five Los Angeles residents, extorting money from their relatives, then killing the abductees and dumping them in a Northern California lake.

All five suspects have pleaded not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and kidnapping resulting in death. Mrozek would not say if Mikhel and Kadamovas will face additional charges for allegedly abducting the Idaho businessman.

Gyurdzhiyants was in federal court in Boise on Thursday, where he was arraigned for trying to arrange the hit.

Gyurdzhiyants' brother Robert was also arraigned on a murder-for-hire charge, which was contained in a federal grand jury indictment. Both men also were charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Robert Gyurdzhiyants, who has been in custody since October, is facing separate firearms and drug charges.

The brothers pleaded not guilty to all charges and are being held without bail.

Armen Gyurdzhiyants' girlfriend, Wendy Powell of Twin Falls, said authorities had "turned the victim into the criminal."

She said her boyfriend had traveled to Los Angeles on legitimate business in November. Until recently, he had operated a trucking business and a video duplication firm, she said.

Attorneys for Gyurdzhiyants, Mikhel and Kadamovas declined to comment.

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