Fraudulent Defendant Apprehended and Pleads Guilty

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By Julie Johansen

Nearly two years ago, local citizens were approached about joining a business then located in Central Warehouse north of Orangeville. There were several business ventures beginning and investments were needed to enhance these businesses, it was explained. Some invested while some were employed long enough for one paycheck, but all for naught. Funds were also granted from the Economic Council of Emery County. It soon became evident that things were not right and all the purported contracts were fraudulent. Once an investigation began, the suspect, Vahe Zeynalyan, fled the country and returned to his country of origin, Armenia.

The Emery County Sheriff contacted the FBI and surveillance began. After some time, Zeynalyan returned to the United States and was apprehended in California to be extradited to Utah. Emery County citizens were not the only victims of this fraudulent activity, but the pocketbooks of several were affected.

These same victims received notice this week from the U.S. Department of Justice that the suspect, upon apprehension, had pled guilty to fraud by wire, radio or television and laundering of monetary instruments. The sentencing of the defendant has been set for July 10. The victims are requested to respond with a victim impact statement to the United States Attorney’s Office.

“We all need to be so careful,” one victim shared. “It was a pretty costly mistake.”

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