On March 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a guilty plea by Mr. Gurgen Israyelyan for the theft of government property associated with COVID-19 relief funds.

Mr. Israyelyan owned or controlled several entities, including Saint Christopher Hospice, Inc. in North Hollywood, California, according to the press release. The government noted that his hospice closed around September 2019 and was not operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the closure of his hospice before the pandemic, Mr. Israyelyan applied for COVID-19 relief funds and received nearly $90,000 in relief. The funds were designated for the care of COVID-19 patients. However, Mr. Israyelyan admitted he stole and misused these funds, including giving funds to family members and using funds for personal use.

Mr. Israyelyan also admitted to fraudulently submitting or causing to be submitted applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (“EIDL”) to the Small Business Administration for five entities that he owned or controlled – GMG Holdings LLC, Double G Ventures LLC, One Touch Assistants LLC, G.I. Construction Group, and his hospice. According to the government, Mr. Israyelyan received approximately $428,100 of EIDL funds, which he used for his benefit and in contradiction to EIDL requirements. EIDLs are part of an SBA program that provides low-interest financing to small businesses, renters, and homeowners in regions affected by declared disasters. The EIDL program was expanded under the CARES Act to provide loans to small businesses economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Israyelyan is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13, 2022, after he pled guilty to three counts of theft of government property. A federal district court judge will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors when issuing a sentence, but Mr. Israyelyan faces up to 30 years in prison (10 years per count).

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