HomeCity NewsFormer Lawyer in Pill Scheme Gets House Arrest

Former Lawyer in Pill Scheme Gets House Arrest

By City News Service

A former criminal defense attorney from Glendale was sentenced on May 24 to three months of home detention for providing phony information to law enforcement to thwart an investigation into a pills-for-profit scheme.
Fred Minassian, 57, was also ordered to pay a $4,000 fine and serve a year of probation, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Minassian pleaded guilty last year in downtown L.A. to a single count of making a false statement to a government agency.
According to his plea agreement, Minassian participated in a scheme to distribute powerful prescription opioids via sham medical clinics that hired corrupt doctors to write bogus prescriptions to black market customers.
The scheme’s ringleader, Minas “Maserati Mike’” Matosyan, 42, of Encino, was sentenced in May 2020 to nine years behind bars after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
Members of the conspiracy profited from illicit prescriptions that were issued without any legitimate medical purpose through a series of clinics that periodically opened and closed in a “nomadic” style, according to an indictment returned in the summer of 2017 against Matosyan, Minassian and 11 others.
Minassian admitted to providing false information to police to thwart an investigation into the seizure of a load of Vicodin from one of the conspiracy’s biggest customers.
The charge against Minassian stems from May 18, 2016, when ring customer Frederick Manning Jr. bought 140 hydrocodone pills from Matosyan in an Encino parking lot. Manning was subsequently stopped by the California Highway Patrol and the pills were seized. Manning indicated to the officer that there was a valid prescription for the pills, according to papers filed in L.A. federal court.
Unbeknownst to the defendants, the traffic stop was part of a large-scale federal narcotics trafficking investigation.
Matosyan introduced Manning to Minassian, who would serve as Manning’s attorney. The three subsequently discussed various types of documentation that could be created and sent to the CHP with the goal of convincing the agency not to charge Manning with unlawful possession of the seized hydrocodone.
It was decided that sending law enforcement a false doctor’s note would “100% guarantee” that police would not inquire further, according to court documents.
On June 29, 2016, Matosyan called Minassian and asked the then-lawyer what the letter needed to include. Minassian said the letter needed to state that Manning was seen by a physician who was treating him for back pain and prescribed the hydrocodone, according to the plea agreement.
Matosyan then created a letter in the name of a legitimate doctor, who was not involved in the scheme, which falsely stated that in May the doctor had prescribed hydrocodone to Manning to treat back pain. On July 1, Minassian directed that two documents be faxed to law enforcement. The first was a letter on the defendant’s Glendale law firm’s letterhead with Minassian’s signature.
The second document was the false letter purporting to be from the doctor that Matosyan created. Minassian admitted directing that the false documents be sent to law enforcement.
Soon after the defendant directed the faxing of the two documents to law enforcement, a detective who was working with agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration contacted the doctor and learned that the letter was false.
Manning pleaded guilty in the case in 2018, but the status of his case is not a matter of public record.

First published in the June 1 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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