For Immediate Release
La Cañada Flintridge Man Charged in Federal Grand Jury Indictment Alleging Murder-for-Hire Plots Against His Ex-Lawyer and a Litigant
LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury today charged a La Cañada Flintridge man who allegedly conspired with a San Fernando Valley resident to hire a hitman to kill two men involved in litigation against him.
Arthur Raffy Aslanian, 53, is charged in a three-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. Also facing this charge in the indictment is Sesar Rivera, 40, of North Hollywood, Aslanian’s employee and alleged co-conspirator.
Both defendants were arrested earlier this month on a federal criminal complaint alleging the murder-for-hire plot. Today’s indictment adds an additional charge to each defendant, charging Aslanian and Rivera each with one count of use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.
Aslanian was ordered jailed without bond after his arrest on September 15. His arraignment is scheduled for October 6 in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles. Rivera made his initial court appearance on September 19 and is free on $20,000 bond. His arraignment is scheduled for October 25.
According to the indictment returned today, in April 2022, Rivera met with an individual and said that a real estate businessman named “Arthur” wanted to pay this individual to kill two people – identified in the indictment as “S.E.” and “M.Y.” – who were involved in litigation against him.
M.Y. was a lawyer who represented Aslanian in a bankruptcy proceeding in which Aslanian had prevailed but then refused to pay approximately $220,000 in legal fees and expenses to M.Y.’s law firm, according to court documents. In early 2022, M.Y.’s law firm filed paperwork to mediate the dispute and prepared to sue Aslanian if the mediation failed.
S.E. had defeated Aslanian in court, after Aslanian tried to take possession of the Brentwood home in which S.E.’s parents lived, court documents state.
In July 2022, Rivera again allegedly met with the individual and said “Arthur” wanted the killing done as soon as possible. Rivera showed the individual information about M.Y. The individual secretly recorded a portion of this July 2022 in-person meeting on his phone and provided a copy of the recording to law enforcement, according to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint in this case.
Rivera allegedly also promised the individual that Aslanian would pay $20,000 for the murder once Rivera had photographic proof that the murder had been committed.
On August 10, Rivera allegedly again met with the individual and told him to focus on murdering S.E. before murdering M.Y. On August 19, Rivera allegedly used the Facebook Messenger application to send the individual a multi-media message with a screenshot of victim S.E.’s Facebook profile, including S.E.’s picture and business name, to assist the CI in locating and murdering S.E.
Law enforcement contacted and warned M.Y. and S.E. of the murder plots against them, court papers state.
On September 7, law enforcement detained and questioned Rivera, who later agreed to cooperate with them, according to court documents.
Aslanian was arrested shortly after a September 15 meeting in which Rivera showed him a staged murder photograph of S.E.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted of all charges, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Los Angeles Police Department investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin B. Reidy and Kevin J. Butler of the Violent and Organized Crime Section are prosecuting this case.