Sergey K. Yasayan, 31, and Edgar Vasilyan, 28, entered guilty pleas on Nov. 1 for conspiracy to commit burglary, theft, identity theft and possession of a scanning device with intent to defraud. They also pleaded guilty to acquiring personal information with intent to defraud.
The court sentenced them to pay $20,000 in restitution to Chase Bank, and serve six months in San Joaquin County Jail. They were given a jail sentence because their white-collar crime falls under Assembly Bill 109, which calls for a jail term as opposed to prison time as part of an effort to reduce overcrowding in the prison system.
“It’s a resolution that we agreed to by the court,” Prosecutor Stephen Taylor said. “Identity theft was the major thing — we wanted to make sure we got that and the conspiracy.”
According to authorities, Yasayan and Vasilyan were part of an Armenian gang and were personally responsible for placing homemade skimming devices on the ATM machines at Chase Bank, 2751 W. Grant Line Road, during the weekends of Aug. 20 through 22 and again Aug. 27 through 29.
The devices consisted of an aluminum slat with a pinhole camera snapped in place above the screen and keypad. The device would blend into the aluminum frame surrounding the ATM machine and secretly record customer keypad entries. A second device was said to be added to the card reader on the outside door of the Chase Bank’s ATM vestibule to capture information from the customer’s card as it was used to unlock the door to the vestibule after hours.
Taylor called the crime an Armenian specialty, commonly referred to as criminal tourism.
“Everybody feels the same way about criminal carpetbaggers,” Taylor said. “They commit a crime and take the money and run. Part of gypsy schemes that move east to west on a cycle. Tracy police did a great job.
“We don’t like criminal tourism,” he continued. “Don’t do it in San Joaquin County.”
Since both Yasayan and Vasilyan were ordered to serve five years of felony probation, they are searchable without a warrant or probable cause after being released from jail. Taylor said authorities can search them, as well as any vehicles they use and their places of residence, at any time.
“What we got them for is what happened in Tracy,” Taylor said. “San Joaquin County is part of the larger case. Now we’ll wait and see what is going to happen with the other (law enforcement) agencies.”
Both men were ordered to turn themselves into county jail on Jan. 10, 2012, to serve the remainder of their jail time.