Feds arrest Aurora con man in Republic of Georgia after 11-year manhunt

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AURORA | Federal authorities helped arrest a former Aurora resident convicted of bank fraud in the Republic of Georgia last weekend, ending a decade-long manhunt, according to the local U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Both foreign and U.S. authorities arrested Karen Nikolyan, 35, at Tbilisi International Airport in Georgia on Saturday, according to Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado.

Nikolyan had been on the lam since 2008, when he absconded before a sentencing hearing in Denver’s U.S. District Court. He had pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud in March of that year.

Nikolyan was originally indicted on 10 counts of bank fraud after investigators said he applied for more than half a dozen home equity loans on his Aurora condo located southwest of Buckley Air Force Base near South Dunkirk Street and East Louisiana Avenue.

Over the course of one month in spring 2007, Nikolyan defrauded seven different banks for more than $600,000, according to prosecutors. 

Although homeowners are typically allowed to only apply for one home equity loan, Nikolyan was able to obtain multiple loans by applying in a short period of time before liens on his condo were officially recorded.

Nikolyan was facing a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for his single count of bank fraud, Dorschner said. Although the nine other counts against him were dropped, the allegations would have been “considered as relevant conduct” at his original sentencing hearing on Dec. 16, 2008.

Nikolyan, a citizen of Armenia, was apprehended at Georgia’s capital airport after flying from Istanbul, Turkey, according to prosecutors. 

 Officials with the Secret Service and FBI worked to track Nikolyan, prosecutors said.

He is currently in custody in Georgia awaiting extradition to Colorado.

“Today’s arrest is due to the tireless work of our law enforcement partners at the Secret Service and the FBI, as well as our prosecutors,” Jason Dunn, U.S. Attorney for Colorado, said in a statement. “We commend their hard work and long memory, ensuring that justice will be served after 11 years.”

Additional charges tied to Nikolyan’s flight from justice have yet to be determined, Dorschner said. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Brown will prosecute Nikolyan’s case going forward.