Los Angeles-area man who allegedly led prescription drug ring arrested on new charges of fraudulently procuring US citizenship
LOS ANGELES – A Burbank man who operated a string of allegedly sham medical clinics – and who already faces federal charges of using the clinics to orchestrate a massive narcotics scheme – was arrested today on new charges that he unlawfully procured United States citizenship.
Armen Simonyan, 44, who was free on bond in the narcotics-trafficking case, was arrested after being named in a two-count indictment returned today by a federal grand jury. The new indictment charges Simonyan with unlawful procurement of United States citizenship and making a false statement on a passport application.
The benefit fraud investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and was conducted under the aegis of HSI’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force.
Today’s indictment outlines Simonyan’s 15-year history of securing United States immigration benefits via fraud and identity theft. Simonyan allegedly entered the United States from Armenia under a stolen identity and a fraudulent passport. Simonyan then attempted to obtain immigration benefits that would allow him to remain in the United States, allegedly concocting a false narrative that he was born in Azerbaijan to parents of supposed mixed Armenian-Azerbaijani nationality; that his family suffered ethnic violence, including the murder of both his parents; and that he fled to the United States via Russia. The indictment alleges that, in fact, Simonyan was born in Armenia to Armenian parents, that he entered the United States from Armenia, and that both of his parents were alive.
Simonyan will lose his United States citizenship if convicted of the immigration fraud charge.
The indictment also charges Simonyan with lying on his application for a United States passport after he gained citizenship. The alleged false statements related to his place of birth, his date of birth, and his claim that his mother was deceased.
Simonyan was previously indicted in August 2017 on charges that he and other conspirators disseminated more than 2 million pills of controlled prescription drugs to the black market, mostly oxycodone and hydrocodone. Simonyan is currently scheduled to go on trial in that case on February 12, 2019.
In the immigration fraud case, Simonyan is expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
If convicted of the charges in the new indictment, Simonyan would face a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison, in addition to the statutory maximum of 60 years in federal prison that he faces in the narcotics case.
Substantial assistance in this case was provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Fraud Detection and National Security unit, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Benjamin Barron and Jamie Lang of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.