Dealings of parolees, parole officer probed
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
A state parole officer has been placed on leave after disclosing "disturbing information" about a financial relationship with two felons, one of whom was a parolee under the officer's supervision, a Paroling Authority official said.
Two federal agencies and the internal affairs division of the state Department of Public Safety are investigating allegations that the two parolees, who are married to each other, gave a $10,000 wedding gift to the parole officer and also paid for the officer's $7,000 cosmetic medical procedure, according to two sources familiar with the case. The sources asked not to be identified because they are prohibited from discussing an active investigation.
The two parolees, Pania Kalama Akopian and her husband Gegham "Gary" Akopian, are in custody. Efforts to reach the Akopians or their attorneys for comment were unsuccessful.
Gegham Akopian was arrested by federal drug agents last month and charged with drug trafficking offenses. He is being held without bail after prosecutors identified him as a danger to the community.
Pania Akopian surrendered to state authorities Sept. 24 for allegedly violating parole. Paroling Authority administrator Tommy Johnson said she took two trips, one to California in January and the other to Kaua'i last month, without receiving the required permission.
Johnson said allegations by Mrs. Akopian and admissions by her parole officer contained "disturbing information" that led to the parole officer being placed on administrative leave Oct. 16.
Pania Akopian was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2000 on felony charges of promoting dangerous drugs. Gegham Akopian has been in and out of state prison since 1990 on drug and weapons convictions. He was convicted in 1989 on felony drug charges for which he was sentenced to a 20-year term. He was later paroled and convicted of a new felony firearms offense.
Johnson said the parole officer placed on leave did not supervise Gegham Akopian and was not involved in the Paroling Authority's decision to release him from prison in January and discharge him from parole in April, more than seven years before his sentence was due to expire.
The reasons for that early discharge from parole are also under investigation by the Public Safety Department internal affairs division, Johnson said.
A discharge can be made by the Paroling Authority with or without the recommendation of the supervising parole officer, said Johnson. He declined to say if Gegham Akopian's parole officer recommended early discharge from parole.
Paroling Authority chairman Alfred Beaver could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Gegham Akopian filed a divorce action against his wife in July. That case is pending.
Reach Jim Dooley at 525-2447 or email@example.com.