For Immediate Release
Businessman Arrested on Murder-for-Hire Charges After Trying to Hire a Hitman to Kill an Attorney and Banker
LOS ANGELES – A real estate contractor has been arrested on a federal criminal complaint alleging he attempted to arrange the killings of an attorney and a real estate banker to which he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, following a joint investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Los Angeles Police Department’s Operations Valley Bureau (OVB).
Arthur Aslanian, 53, of La Cañada Flintridge, is charged in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday with one count of conspiracy to murder for hire.
According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, in April 2022, Aslanian directed a subordinate to meet with a cooperating witness and expressed Aslanian wanted to pay a hitman to murder two individuals. Aslanian provided the subordinate with his intended victim’s name, place of business, and identifying information. The subordinate worked for Aslanian completing labor jobs.
Law enforcement became aware of the murder-for-hire plot in July 2022. The intended murder targets, identified in court documents as “Victim 1” and “Victim 2,” each were involved in separate litigation against Aslanian.
The subordinate allegedly met the cooperating witness again in July and relayed “Arthur” wanted the killings done as quickly as possible. During that meeting, the subordinate also conveyed Aslanian was in litigation with Victim 1, an attorney, and wanted him murdered first. The price for the hit on Victim 1 was negotiated to $20,000. The cooperating witness requested half the money be paid up front, but the subordinate refused stating full payment would be paid upon completion of the murder. Photographic proof of the murder was requested at the meet.
ATF contacted Victim 1 and informed him of the murder-for-hire plot targeting him. The victim disclosed his law firm had been retained by Aslanian in connection with a bankruptcy proceeding. Victim 1 said his firm had prevailed in the bankruptcy case, but that Aslanian refused to pay approximately $220,000 in legal fees and expenses. In early 2022, the firm sought meditation to their dispute and prepared a lawsuit against Aslanian, if mediation was unsuccessful.
According to the affidavit, on Aug. 10, 2022, the subordinate met the cooperating witness to further discuss the planned murders. The cooperating witness told the subordinate the job would be difficult because the target was an attorney. The subordinate relayed Aslanian wanted to shift focus back to Victim 2.
On Aug. 19, 2022, at the direction of law enforcement, the cooperating witness met with the subordinate to discuss the murder-for-hire plot details and to identify Victim 2.
On Aug. 20, 2022, ATF met with Victim 2 and informed him he was the target of a murder for hire. Victim 2 disclosed he had been involved in litigation against one of Aslanian’s companies, and that Aslanian tried to take possession of a house that had belonged to Victim 2’s parents, accruing approximately $800,000 in legal fees. In a later interview with Victim 2, it was disclosed he won the lawsuit and Aslanian was required to pay the legal fees. Aslanian had repaid a portion ranging between $600,000 and $650,000.
According to the affidavit, on Aug. 24, 2022, an undercover law enforcement agent and the cooperating witness met with the subordinate regarding the murders. The undercover agent asked how Aslanian wanted the murder committed. The subordinate allegedly stated, Aslanian just wanted it done, “whatever happens, accident, whatever.” The subordinate told the cooperating witness that Aslanian wanted to launder the payment money so that it could not be traced back to him. The subordinate allegedly guaranteed Aslanian would pay the $20,000 per victim once the murder was completed. The subordinate told the undercover agent and the cooperating witness that he (the subordinate) would meet with Aslanian that evening to discuss the murder for hire. Later that evening law enforcement observed the meeting between Aslanian and the subordinate discussing the murders, according to the affidavit.
On Sept. 8, 2022, Aslanian allegedly met again with his subordinate at which time Aslanian coached the subordinate how to avoid being caught by law enforcement while the murder was being carried out. Aslanian also told the subordinate to have an alibi at the time of the murder, told the subordinate not to discuss the murder plot any further until the murder was completed, and that the hitman would be paid in full for his services.
On Sept. 15, 2022, the subordinate met again with Aslanian and showed Aslanian a staged murder photo of Victim 2. He told Aslanian the murder of Victim 2 had been completed. Aslanian allegedly confirmed to his subordinate that the individual in the staged murder photo was Victim 2. He expressed he was pleased with the completion of the murder and would pay the subordinate the money for the hitman the following day. Aslanian was arrested shortly after this meeting.
Aslanian made his initial appearance Friday and was ordered detained. His arraignment is scheduled for Oct 6, 2022. If convicted, Aslanian will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. The subordinate is expected to make his initial appearance later today.
This was a joint ATF and LAPD OVB investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Reidy and Kevin Butler from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
For more information on ATF’s Los Angeles Field Division follow us on Twitter at @LosAngelesATF.
A complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.