‘Armenian Power’ gang ran ID theft ring within CDCR

Dec 4th, 2012 | By | Category: Cell phones, Prisons & Confinement, Spotlight

For the price of a smuggled cellphone, downtrodden CDCR inmates may realize their dreams through Multi-Level Larceny.

Prison Theft Ring Robs Elderly by Bribing OC Bank Workers

XREF: Feds roll up major Armenian gang in SoCal (2/17/2011)
Two prisoners were sentenced to 25 years today for masterminding an identity theft scheme to steal $8 million from hundreds of victims by bribing OC bank employees for customer data.By OC Patch Staff

Two men behind a massive $8 million identity-theft conspiracy hatched and operated from a prison to bribe employees at Orange County banks for information on more than 500 people were sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison.

Angus Brown, also known as “Homicide,” 36, and Arman Sharopetrosian, also known as “Horse,” 33, were both in a California state prison when they used bank information to defraud hundreds of elderly victims in Orange and neighboring counties…

Brown and Sharopetrosian were the lead defendants in one of two federal indictments that targeted the Armenian Power gang two years ago. According to the fraud indictment issued by a grand jury in Orange County, members of Armenian Power worked with members of African-American street gangs and bribed bank insiders at Bank of America, Chase Bank, Wells Fargo and Citibank locations in Orange County.

…Sharopetrosian and Brown organized a scheme that misappropriated bank information from primarily elderly victims, then forged victims’ signatures and deposited high-dollar checks into accounts set up by members of the conspiracy…

Bank employees paid low salaries were bribed to turn over personal information of customers so the crooks could bypass the first line of security by answering questions such as a mother’s maiden name…

Others were hired to intercept the checks, usually mailed overnight, from mailboxes before customers could retrieve them…

Sharopetrosian got the phones smuggled into the prison while Brown called banks to order the checks, McNally said. Sharopetrosian even got his elderly mother involved in the scheme by forging checks…(Full text at Orange County Patch)

The people of California spend a lot of money on prisons–We do so to prevent convicted felons from preying upon the community. In that context, the successful operation of an ID Theft ring from within CDCR constitutes a security breach on a par with mass escapes. CDCR failed the People–And this is just a case we know about…thanks to the Feds.

Clearly, a complete crack down on cell phones is YEARS past due.

Understanding FCC regulations continue to hinder signal blocking, other strategies must be employed.

It has been nearly 3 years since CDCR started a pilot program employing a cell-phone sniffing dog. Why doesn’t every prison in the state have a team of such K9 units by now?

Soledad prison cell-phone smugglers meet K-9 match

BY KIMBER SOLANA, SOLEDAD — …In a dimly lit bunker at the California Training Facility, about a dozen of these lockers stand next to a set of bunk beds. The room is unassuming and quiet, except for the heavy panting of a black German shepherd.

The dog sniffs the worn mattress, then moves past a box filled with paper. After its handler, Officer Oscar Covarrubias, opens one of the rusty lockers, the German shepherd pokes its head in and immediately sits.

“…Inside the locker…is a pink cellular phone…

“Ida” is part of a new initiative by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to combat a common prison problem — the smuggling of cell phones. (XREF: Dogging contraband cellphones 5/11/2010)

Now that we have a Democrat super-majority in California, surely there is nothing standing between the funding this vital public safety program other than an appallingt lack of will.

Granted, CDCR is reportedly on track to curtail illicit phone use through “managed access jamming” but statewide implementation of this technology is over 3 years out.  Moreover, managed access jamming is security-breach prone:

CDCR To Block Prison Cell Phones Via Managed Access Jamming System

meshDETECT Inc.
The CDCR recently issued a bid for its inmate telephone services and made the installation of wireless managed access jamming systems in its prisons a requirement for the bidders. Global Tel*Link (GTL) has won that bid and will therefore be bearing the cost of installing these systems. Given the high cost of this selective jamming technology and GTL’s commitment not to raise the cost of calls for prisoners, either the CDCR is taking a much lower commission on the calls or GTL is taking a haircut on its profits.

Managed access has previously been installed at the Parchman correctional facility in Mississippi. Although the jamming system has blocked most contraband cell phone usage, there have been some noteworthy breaches.

Update (4/18/12):Global Tel expects to have the blocking technology running at the California State Prison in Solano by the end of the year and at all prisons within three years…(Full text at meshDETECT Inc. )

Given the apparent holes in the aforementioned technology, it is clear Managed Access Jamming is neither a catch-all nor an end-all.  Yet, catch-all-and-end-all we must— Angus “Homicide” Brown and Arman “Horse” Sharopetrosian are living proof of the need to stop contraband cellphones NOW.

MultiLevel Larceny: the IMway

Last year, the not-yet-Super-majority-wielding Democrats managed to raise what amounted to a legislative piss-boner in the passage of  SB 26, making illicit possession of a cellphone a misdemeanor.  ( State getting semi-tough on inmate cellphones 10/7/2011 .)  Notwithstanding the semi-flaccid-on-crime Democrats’ threat of a slap on the hand, criminals inside are willing to risk it.  Who would have thought convicted felons would be undeterred by the possible threat of a fine?

To summarize, CDCR has failed miserably in controlling dangerous contraband, resulting in the documented victimization of hundreds, if not thousands.  It can be stopped.  It must be stopped.  Yesterday.

Paco suggests you contact a Democrat Party Assembly Member or Senator near you and DEMAND they upgrade contraband phone smuggling and possession to a felony, fund multiple K9 units per facility and pass an emergency bill to expedite Managed Access Jamming statewide. Call CCPOA’s legislative office and ask what they are doing about the cellphone threat. Ask your Chapter President to bring it up with the State Board of Directors.

And, if you can’t bring yourself to do any of the above, at the very least DON’T bring your phone inside–Leave it in the car. –

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One Comment to “‘Armenian Power’ gang ran ID theft ring within CDCR”

  1. MyNameIsLarry says:

    Now that is embarassing. Right under CDC’s nose these punks were ripping off grandma and grandpa. We could stop this in no time with a statewide lockdown and shakedown. Bring in the dogs, get ready to pay OT behind a lot of potty watches and get those phones. An inmate with a cellphone is as dangerous as an inmate with a gun. Wake up all you assholes in the legislature and all of you kids in Admin too! Lead on this or get the fuck out of the way.