A real estate broker will spend time in prison for her role in a scheme to apply for COVID-19 small-business relief money and spend it instead on property down payments, gold coins and luxury items.

Tamara Dadyan

Tamara Dadyan on Monday was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in June to multiple charges of conspiracy and one charge of aggravated identity theft. Dadyan was one of seven members of the Los Angeles-based fraud ring that have been sentenced in connection with the scheme.

The Department of Justice described the scheme in a press release as an effort to seek nearly $20 million in money from the Paycheck Protection Program through fraudulent means.

These forgivable loans, which were intended to help small businesses weather the disruptions of the pandemic, were then used on a variety of impermissible transactions, including designer handbags, clothing and even a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

“This case, involving an egregious example of pandemic relief fraud, was the first in the country to go to trial,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the department’s criminal division said in the release. “The Department of Justice, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to use every available tool to combat and prevent criminals from exploiting national emergencies for their personal benefit.”

Members of the conspiracy also used the money for down payments on luxury homes in the California cities of Glendale, Tarzana and Palm Desert, the release said.

The participants used dozens of fake or stolen identities to apply for the loans, including those of the elderly or dead, the department said.

According to Dadyan’s attorney, she came to the U.S. as a child from Armenia and later built a career as a real estate broker in the Los Angeles area, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“This lady has been a stalwart of the family,” the attorney, Jerry Kaplan, said. “Her brother-in-law happened to be crook.”

But the judge didn’t buy this narrative, saying Dadyan’s actions were brazen and represented a “total disregard for the law.” 

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson pointed to court evidence that Dadyan sent text messages to Richard Ayvazyan, her brother-in-law and the scheme’s ringleader, as they prepared to submit more PPP loan applications before the program ran out of money, the Times reports.

The judge denied a request from Dadyan’s attorney to stagger her sentence with that of her husband, — who was also convicted in the scheme — so they could continue to raise their daughters.

Although government attorneys asked for Dadyan to be taken into custody immediately, the judge decided to delay this until Jan. 5.

“There’s no clear and convincing evidence that she’s a flight risk,” Wilson said, according to the report.

This isn’t the end of Dadyan’s legal troubles. She and her husband are still awaiting trial on state mortgage fraud charges, according to the report.

Email Daniel Houston

homebuying | realtors
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