February 13 at 3:30 p.m. PST
Victim Held Without Medical Care for Five Days while Captors Sought $1 Million
LOS ANGELES – Two men who participated in a kidnapping plot in which a Van Nuys man who was accidentally shot, shocked with a taser and held captive for five days without medical treatment while his kidnappers attempted to negotiate a $1 million ransom payment were each sentenced today to spend decades in federal prison.
Vagan Adzhemyan, 44, of Costa Mesa, was sentenced by United States District Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen to 30 years in federal prison. Galvin Shaun Gibson, 33, of Mira Loma, received a 27-year sentence from Judge Nguyen.
“No one deserves what defendants did to him,” Judge Nguyen said this afternoon. In issuing the 360-month prison sentence to Adzhemyan, Judge Nguyen said he showed “no conscience or remorse.”
Following a trial last year, Adzhemyan and Gibson were convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping. Gibson was additionally convicted of operating a marijuana grow at his house.
A third defendant indicted in the case, Suren Garibyan, 34, of North Hollywood, pleaded guilty late last year to two federal kidnapping charges. Judge Nguyen sentenced Garibyan in April 2011 to 210 months in federal prison.
The kidnapping took place during the early morning hours of July 29, 2009 in an underground parking garage at a Van Nuys apartment building where the victim’s parents lived. During the abduction, the kidnapping victim was accidentally shot by a friend, who was violently assaulted by the kidnappers during the incident but was able to retrieve a gun the victim had obtained for self-defense. The victim was shocked with a taser by his abductors before he was forced into a waiting vehicle. Over the next five days, the victim was bound and forced to wear a blindfold as he was held at various locations in Southern California, including a restaurant owned by Gibson – the Avenue Grills on Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles – and a townhouse on East 5th Street in Ontario.
While holding the victim 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 to secure a $1 million ransom in exchange for the victim’s safe release. The victim was blindfolded and bound at his hands and feet. He was beaten, and at times his captors directed blows at his wounded abdomen. The captors withheld necessary medical treatment for the victim’s life-threatening gunshot wound.
On August 3, Adzhemyan and Garibyan used the victim’s ATM card to withdraw cash from his bank account, while Gibson and his three pit bull dogs kept watch over the blindfolded victim at Gibson’s residence on Delaware River Drive in Mira Loma
All three men were taken into custody on August 3, when the kidnapping victim was rescued from Gibson’s residence by a team of Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officers. After the victim was rescued, he was immediately taken to a hospital where he remained for almost two months and underwent three surgeries. The victim’s “treating physician testified at trial that victim…likely would have died if officers had not rescued him when they did,” prosecutors wrote in sentencing papers.
On the day of the arrests, investigators discovered a large-scale marijuana grow operation in Gibson’s residence, where virtually the entire second floor of the house had been converted into marijuana grow and drying areas.
The investigation into the kidnapping was conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Violent Crimes Squad. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney E. Martin Estrada and Justice Department Trial Attorney Cristina M. Moreno.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney E. Martin Estrada
Violent & Organized Crime Section