Couple who stole millions in COVID-19 relief funds leave goodbye note for kids, flee

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Richard Ayvazyan and Marietta Terabelian (Photo Credit: FBI Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES (WJW) — A man and his wife, convicted in a scheme to steal more than $20 million in COVID-19 relief funds, are wanted after fleeing before sentencing.

A federal grand jury on June 25 found Richard Ayvazyan, 43, and Marietta Terabelian, 37, guilty of several counts, including of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

They allegedly cut their tracking bracelets off on Aug. 29 while awaiting sentencing.

WKRC reports they left behind a note for their children, who are 13, 15 and 16.

According to Ayvazyan’s attorney, the note said the family would “be together again one day” and that “this is not a goodbye, but a brief break from each other.”

A reward of up to $20,000 is being offered for information leading to their arrests.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ayvazyan was sentenced in absentia to 17 years in prison. Terabelian was sentenced to six years. Ayvazyan’s brother, Artur Ayvazyan, 41, was ordered to serve five years in federal prison in the case.

Four others were previously sentenced in the scheme.

They are accused of using dozens of fake, stolen or synthetic identities, including names belonging to elderly or deceased people and foreign exchange students to submit fraudulent applications for the relief funds.

Authorities say they used the money for down payments on luxury homes and to buy gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, fine imported furnishings, designer handbags, clothing and a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

The couple was ordered to forfeit bank accounts, jewelry, watches, gold coins, three residential properties and approximately $450,000 in cash.

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