LOS ANGELES – A San Fernando Valley man who was the leader of a conspiracy that stole more than $800,000 in COVID-19 jobless benefits has been sentenced to 97 months in federal prison, the Justice Department announced today.
Robert Mirumyan, 31, of Porter Ranch, was sentenced by United States District Judge Percy Anderson, who also ordered him to pay $804,579 in restitution.
Mirumyan pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, admitting that he oversaw a scheme that used stolen identities to apply for COVID-era unemployment insurance (UI) benefits from the California Employment Development Department (EDD).
Mirumyan came to the attention of law enforcement when the FBI executed search and seizure warrants in March 2021 against the Beverly Hills-based U.S. Private Vaults, where investigators discovered a safety deposit box held in the name of Mirumyan’s wife that contained $400,000 in cash. U.S. Private Vaults, a private safety deposit box company that advertised it was not subject to bank “know your customer” rules, pleaded guilty in 2022 to conspiring to launder money with its customers.
During 2020 and continuing through August of 2021, Mirumyan and others used other people’s identities to apply for UI benefits through the EDD, according to court documents. Once EDD approved the false and fraudulent UI applications, banks issued debit cards containing the funds intended for the false identities, Mirumyan and others used the fraudulently obtained debit cards to withdraw cash.
“When confronted with the COVID pandemic that has claimed the lives of almost 7 million persons worldwide to date, [Mirumyan] instead saw an opportunity to bilk taxpayers out of the emergency funds their government generously made available to ameliorate job losses,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed in this case. “Such criminal opportunism during a global health and economic emergency is egregious.”
Judge Anderson described Mirumyan’s offense as “galling” and “callous,” noting that the defendant took advantage of benefits meant to help the unemployed even while he had the talent and opportunities to earn money legitimately.
“[I]t appears that [Mirumyan] made a decision to pursue riches through fraud rather than to participate in the legitimate economy,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memo. “Worse, his choice paid off, at least until his stash of $400,000 in cash was accidentally discovered at U.S. Private Vaults based on an unrelated investigation of that business. [Mirumyan] was able to support himself and his family, purchasing a million-dollar home with a swimming pool with his criminal income.”
Source : Justice