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La Cañada businessman charged with trying to hire hitman to kill 2 people he owed money

CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Sept. 20 AM Edition)
CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Sept. 20 AM Edition) 02:03

A La Cañada Flintridge businessman faces federal charges of trying to hire a hitman to kill an attorney and a real estate banker he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the ATF.

Arthur Aslanian, 53, was charged with one count of conspiracy to murder for hire in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday, when he also made his first court appearance.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, Aslanian sent an employee meet with a cooperating witness and an undercover agent to discuss the murder of two people, an attorney and a banker who had won lawsuits against him. In both cases, federal agents say Aslanian owed about $200,000 in legal fees to the men he wanted dead. 

The ATF says law enforcement became aware of the murder-for-hire plot in July of 2022. Aslanian allegedly negotiated the price for each murder as $20,000 through his employee and required proof of the murder with photos.

The employee was directed several times to meet with individuals believed to be killers for hire. The employee told the undercover officer and cooperating witness at one meeting that Aslanian just wanted it done "whatever happens, accident, whatever," and that his boss wanted to launder the payment money so it couldn't be traced back to him, according to the ATF. Aslanian allegedly instructed his employee to have an alibi at the time of the murder and to not discuss the plot until it was done and the hitman was paid.

Aslanian was arrested shortly after a Sept. 15 meeting in which his employee showed him a staged murder of the banker. The unnamed employee made his first court appearance Monday.

Aslanian is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 6. If convicted as charged, he faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

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