OAKLAND (KRON) — A Los Angeles paralegal at the center of an immigration fraud case has pled no contest to felony grand theft after paying over $50,000 in restitution to his victims, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley said Friday.
Vosgan Mekhitarian entered a no contest plea in an Alameda County courtroom Thursday.
“My Office is dedicated to protecting our citizens from scams and fraud such as that committed by Mr. Mekhitarian,” O’Malley said. “He preyed upon vulnerable individuals hoping to become U.S. citizens. We are grateful to the couragous individual who reported this scam to the authorities, and extremely pleased that we were able to secure full restitution to all those he victimized.”
In April of 2012, Mekhitarian approached several people part of an Oakland church who were looking to become U.S. citizens, O’ Malley said. He told the church members he was experienced in helping non-citizens get legal citizenship.
He also claimed to know a high-level government employee who works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to O’ Malley. Mekhitarian told the victims he could get them citizenship for $8,500 a person.
“Relying on Mekhitarian’s representations, six victims paid at least $8,000 per person to him to obtain their citizenship,” the district attorney’s office said in a press release. “After several months went by, Defendant Mekhitarian made repeated excuses as to why their citizenship applications were being delayed and eventually ceased all contact with the victims and kept all of their money.”
In April 2015, the district attorney’s office received reports of the fraud. About two months later, the DA’s office filed six felony counts of grand theft against the suspect.
Mekhitarian was arrested at his Los Angeles home. Investigators collected computers, cellphones, and business records.