A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted two men late yesterday on kidnapping charges for abducting a Van Nuys, Calif., man who was shot, shocked with a taser and held captive for five days while his kidnappers attempted to negotiate a $1 million ransom payment, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr., for the Central District of California. The jury convicted the two men after approximately two days of deliberation.
Vagan Adzhemyan, 41, of Costa Mesa, Calif.; Suren Garibyan, 32, of North Hollywood, Calif.; and Galvin Shaun Gibson, 30, of Mira Loma, Calif., were charged in August 2009 with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping. In addition, Gibson was charged with manufacturing marijuana and being a felon in possession of ammunition. Adzhemyan and Gibson were found guilty yesterday of conspiring to commit kidnapping and kidnapping. Gibson was also found guilty of manufacturing marijuana at the house in Mira Loma where he was holding the victim at the time he was rescued. Adzhemyan and Gibson were initially tried in federal court in January 2010, but a mistrial was declared when the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
According to evidence presented during this two-week trial, Adzhemyan and Garibyan abducted the victim in the parking garage of the victim’s mother’s house in Van Nuys in the early morning hours of July 29, 2009. During the abduction, the victim was shot and shocked with a taser before he was forced into a waiting vehicle, while an associate of the victim’s was violently assaulted by the kidnappers. In the process of abducting him, the victim was accidentally shot by his friend – a gunshot wound that caused extensive bleeding and ripped through the victim’s intestines. According to the evidence presented at trial, the kidnapping victim was bound and forced to wear a blindfold as he was held at various locations in southern California during the next five days. During the time that the victim was held captive, the kidnappers directed him to use cellular telephones to make calls to family members and close associates in the Los Angeles area and in Russia in order to secure a $1 million ransom in exchange for the victim’s safe release.
According to evidence presented at trial, the captors withheld necessary medical treatment for the victim’s life-threatening gunshot wound. In addition, the kidnappers repeatedly beat the victim during the course of his captivity and focused their beatings on the victim’s stomach area, which was most affected by his gunshot wound.
Adzhemyan, Garibyan and Gibson were taken into custody on Aug. 3, 2009, when the victim was rescued from Gibson’s Mira Loma residence by a team of Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officers. The victim was found lying on an air mattress, unable to move on his own, while one of Gibson’s pit bull dogs kept watch over him. According to testimony at trial, officers were able to locate both the kidnappers and the place where the kidnappers were hiding the victim following an extensive undercover surveillance operation conducted by the LAPD. According to evidence presented at trial, the victim was hospitalized for more than one month after he was rescued and underwent three surgeries during his hospitalization.
Trial evidence also showed that Adzhemyan and Garibyan used the victim’s ATM card to withdraw the maximum amount of cash from the victim’s bank account on three separate occasions while he was being held in captivity.
At sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 2, 2010, Adzhemyan and Gibson each face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Garibyan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping on Dec. 30, 2009. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 24, 2010.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Cristina Moreno of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, Chief Robert Dugdale of the Violent and Organized Crime Section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada. The investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division and the FBI’s Violent Crimes Squad.