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Los Angeles fugitive in sprawling COVID relief scam is extradited from Montenegro

A fugitive from Los Angeles who faced more than a decade in prison for an $18 million pandemic scam has been extradited from Montenegro to the United States, according to Montenegrin police.

The US Marshals Service has taken 41-year-old Tamara Dadyan into custody at the airport of Montenegro’s capital Podgorica, police said.

Dadyan admitted in June 2021 that she served as chief lieutenant to her brother-in-law Richard Ayvazyan in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic to raise millions of dollars in rescue loans. Their family fraud gang applied for more than 150 loans, mostly fake companies in the San Fernando Valley.

After Dadyan pleaded guilty to three felonies, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson sentenced her to 10 years and 10 months in prison in December 2021.

Prosecutors urged Wilson to detain her immediately, saying she had “every reason” to run and might join her fugitive in-laws, Ayvazyan and his wife, Marietta Terabelian, abroad.

But the judge released Dadyan for more than seven weeks to get her affairs in order. On the day she was due to report to jail, she disappeared, leaving behind two teenage daughters at her home in Encino.

Tamara Dadyan

(U.S. court)

Traveling on a forged British passport under the false identity of Isabella Angela Adamos, Dadyan flew to Montenegro, where Ayvazyan and Terabelian, who were also convicted of the scam, were living under false names in Tivat, a posh seaside town.

By the time Dadyan joined them in February 2022, Ayvazyan and Terabelian – who had left behind three teenage children in Tarzana – were living in a rented waterfront villa with a swimming pool on the scenic Bay of Kotor, just off Greece’s Adriatic coast .

Ayvazyan and Terabelian had been living the high life clandestinely for more than five months, but Dadyan’s life on the run only lasted a few weeks. Ayvazyan accidentally tipped off the FBI about the trio’s whereabouts by logging into one of the bank accounts he set up for a bogus company he set up during the pandemic scam.

Montenegro police arrested Terabelian at a hair salon in Tivat and hours later captured Ayvazyan and Dadyan at a hotel in Budva, a nearby coastal town.

Ayvazyan and Terabelian were extradited in November. Ayvazyan is serving a 17-year prison sentence and Terabelian a six-year prison sentence.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the US law firm in Los Angeles, declined to comment on Dadyan’s extradition.