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Armenian Power Gang Members Convicted in Skimming Operating

The skimmers were installed at 99 Cents Only stores across Southland.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Two leaders and an associate of the Armenian Power gang were convicted today of multiple crimes, including operating a skimming scheme in which personal identification numbers were stolen from thousands of customers of 99 Cents Only Stores.

Concluding a four-week trial, a Los Angeles federal jury returned guilty verdicts against Armenian Power leaders Mher "Capone" Darbinyan and Arman "Horse" Sharopetrosian. Gang associate Rafael Parsadanyan was convicted for his role in the skimming operation.

The skimmers, which collected customers' debit card numbers and personal identification codes, were surreptitiously installed in 99 Cents Only stores across the Southland. Several weeks after the devices were installed, they were removed and the information downloaded.

The evidence showed that Parsadanyan assisted Darbinyan by, among other things, collecting and storing proceeds of the fraud scheme, including delivering about $34,000 in criminal proceeds to an associate.

Darbinyan and Sharopetrosian were also found guilty of conspiring to extort money from a member of the Armenian community using threats of violence against the victim and his family members.

Parsadanyan, who had been free on bond, was taken into custody immediately after the verdicts were read.

The defendants each face multiple years in federal prison at sentencing later this year.

Darbinyan, Sharopetrosian and Parsadanyan were among 90 people charged in 2011 in two indictments targeting Armenian Power. Of that number, 85defendants have been been convicted.

According to court documents, the gang formed in East Hollywood in the 1980s.

—City News Service


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