Sylvia Melkonian, Anti-Drug Crusader Whose Late Son Inspired Film Festival Movie, Accused in $4.2 Million Real Estate Scam

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The mother of a popular South County high school student whose prescription drug overdose death helped inspire an anti-drug documentary making its world premiere at the upcoming Newport Beach Film Festival has been arrested for participating in a $4.2 million real estate "flipping" scheme that included properties that did not exist. Sylvia Melkonian was arrested Monday morning by FBI agents and later pleaded not guilty at arraignment in federal court in Santa Ana, where she posted $20,000 bond, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Melkonian, 48, of Laguna Beach, faces five counts of wire fraud that could bring a maximum sentence of more than 100 years with a conviction.

Her son's role in the creation of the anti-drug film premiering May 2 was just featured in the Weekly article, "OC OD Tsunami: That's how Behind the Orange Curtain describes a prescription-drug 'epidemic' killing local kids." Here is the first paragraph of that story:

Apologies for the macabre opening, but the documentary Behind the Orange Curtain was born out of the deaths of Jarrod Barber and Mark Melkonian, South County teens who succumbed to drug overdoses. Barber, 19, drifted away on the family couch in Laguna Niguel on Jan. 8, 2010, after a cocktail of Opana, a narcotic painkiller; Seroquel, an anti-psychotic; and Clonazepam, an anti-convulsant often used to treat anxiety. Melkonian was a 17-year-old junior at Dana Hills High School when he overdosed on prescription pills on May 25 of that same year.

Sylvia Melkonian also appeared recently with Jarrod's mother, Jodi Barber, and Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Desert) on Dr. Drew Pinsky's HLN program.

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Previously, Melkonian appeared in a video for TCS Foreclosures, also known as Trinity Consultants of Irvine, which taught students how to make money through "short sales," a real estate term for the sale of homes just before foreclosure proceedings begin.



According to the feds, Melkonian and five others around the country promised more than three dozen investors title to homes that could be easily resold, but which in fact did not have "clean" titles, were uninhabitable, were simply worthless or, in some cases, did not even exist. The victims had attended classes in Irvine; Costa Mesa; Orlando, Florida; Dallas, Texas; and on Internet "webinars."

An indictment returned by a federal grand jury on April 18 accuses the defendants of participating in a real estate scheme from mid-2009 through mid-2010 in which they sold Real Estate Owned-REO, or bank owned-properties for as much as $45,000 each. Buyers were told the properties were more valuable than that and could be resold-or flipped-for a profit within a year. The defendants only paid about $10,000 for each property, the indictment alleges.

Buyers were also promised properties came with clean titles, property management services and guaranteed rentals for the first three months, according to the indictment, which further alleges victims were promised an "exit strategy" in which they could sell the properties back to the defendants for $60,000.

Besides some properties not existing, others were condemned or had issues with their titles that prevented buyers from taking control of the properties, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney. Some titles were encumbered by tax liens, fines or building code violations. And the investor funds were not placed in escrow, as is routine, but immediately dispersed upon receipt, according to the feds.

Besides Melkonian, Orange County defendants are Andrew Wardein, 38, of Irvine, and Craig Shults, 41, of Huntington Beach. Wardein surrendered to authorities on Friday and was released on a $25,000 bond after a judge scheduled a trial in the case for June 12. Shults is scheduled to appear for an arraignment Wednesday.

Sheridan Snyder, 65, of Turtletown, Tennessee, was also arrested Monday by the FBI. After appearing in federal court in Tennessee, Snyder posted a $30,000 bond and is due in Santa Ana federal court May 14 for arraignment. Paul LiCausi, 47, of Fort Pierce, Florida, and Joseph Haymore, 31, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, are due in Santa Ana Monday for arraignment.

Like Melkonian, the other defendants each face at least five counts of wire fraud and, with a conviction, a maximum sentence of at least 100 years in federal prison.

An online search of TCS Foreclosures revealed several sites where people leaving comments accused the company of pulling a scam. An anonymous poster wrote the following on May 18, 2009 (although I'll spare you the ALL-CAPS): "There are no words to describe how taken advantage of and misrepresented by TCS other than to say I would never go near the 'company.' Andrew Wardien should be arrested . . . I would [like] nothing better than to see all of their scams stopped and refunds be made--I won't hold my breath on that one--and to see them behind bars!"

That last wish could be granted.

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22 comments
sylvia4change
sylvia4change

Skinnygirl206 AKA Patty Baltayan  stop just stop already. Stop being so mean and bitter. You are not perfect either. You do not know all the facts, stop spreading all these lies. Please talk to me if you have an issue with me. I put a stop to you and told you to stop giving Andrew your Aderall and any other pills and controlled narcotics you take, and you did not like that, well tooooo bad!!! I will do whatever it takes to save my son!!!! You had 2 children DIE on YOUR watch and your own son died on YOUR watch and he took narcotics that you regularly take and have modeled that behavior for him for years!! I have never said that you killed your son...I would never say that about anybody, and especially to a grieving Mother....but you have never done anything to get help or change your unhealthy behavior and addiction. Please get some help. Please stop destroying lives around you. I will pray for you. Please talk to me if you need help.  

skinnygirl206
skinnygirl206

Sylvia Melkonian was a horrible mother to her boys. Now that Mark is dead she is running around acting like a mother who was there for her children. What she does not talk about

is how she abandoned her two sons for year prior to Marks death. She jumped at the chance to make a documentary and started a foundation in Marks name with her old boss Craig Shults in the hopes to make money to pay for her lifestyle. She lives with a convicted drug dealer while she holds her anti drug talks. 

Together Melkonian and the filmmaker have scammed all the investors who funded the making of this film.

Lets talk about how she stole her ex- cousin in-laws credit card a few months ago (for the second time) and went on a shopping spree. This is how she thanks the only person who would give her oldest son a home when he was released from being incarcerated in 2013. Why would she not bring her only living child into her own home? In-fact, not only has her son never been-to her home, the only address he has for his mother is a p/o box. The answer is because her drug dealing boyfriend hates her son. On top of that, Melkonian stole her son's car and gave it to her loser boyfriend to drive. 

Melkonian was having an affair with her boss Craig Shults and was fully aware of the scam they were pulling.       

She is a cold lying woman who only thinks of herself.

Sylvia Melkonian's first and only love is money.

 Lies flow from her lips like wine flows to the lips of a drunk.


Both Sylvia Melkonian and Craig Shults were found guilty and are now  awaiting sentencing. Craig Schults is currently incarcerated. Write the judge and tell him to lock her up and throw away the key.  

Sweetcandlesisters
Sweetcandlesisters

 What about those of us who are suffering because of people like this?  We who live in chronic pain.  Do people out there realize they have COMPLETELY reformulated Opana, Oxycontin, and other medications, to where they can no longer be crushed ?  I am well aware of why they were being crushed and agree *something* needed to be done, but not this.  As a matter of fact, the new formulation of these medicines are no longer working for patients like myself because our bodies are not able to digest the pills.  The are hard as a rock, and they just gel up in your stomach and expand, whereas if the formula were the same as before, the drug would be released into your bloodstream and absorbed by your body.  Those of us who live in chronic pain are suffering the most now!  I am so outraged!  It is horrible enough to live in agonizing pain, but add the fact that almost all the meds we have to choose from here in the USA are being completely changed and ruined!  INEFFECTIVE!  Google "opana reformulation" or "oxycontin reformulation", and read some threads on pain management forums, from people who have NEVER took a pill to get anything but some shred of relief for their pain, like myself.  The newest ones out as of May 2012, are causing people to have stomach aches, many other negative effects;  many are reporting that they have found whole pills in their toilet after using the bathroom, and I believe them!  I am going to see if anyone has attempted a petition or something... just because there are people out there who have nothing better to do with their time than to abuse medications that were made the way they were for a reason, should not mean the legion of people who TRULY live in pain must suffer!  Some people who have never used a needle in their life are asking on forums out there if they are going to have to turn to heroin for relief!  Any thoughts or comments?

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I have little sympathy for "investors" in real estate. They are the reason a house that was built 40 years ago originally sold for $20,000 now will sell for $450,000. America needs more homes and less "Investment" properties. 

Gopal Das
Gopal Das

 Unfortunately, there are still tons of  scams out there…There is a new iPhone app recently released, called Scam Detector, which exposes like 500 scams. It is worth checking it out, if you have an iPhone. The app is also online - they have a free web version, if interested. Google it, it's kinda cool, actually.

Phukhugh
Phukhugh

she is not an Armenian she is a Mexican...

Msjsalinas
Msjsalinas

First of all none of you guys know what's really going on and most of you saying rude comments don't even know her personally or anything ! So until know her or the family and know the truth then comment ! If not go on with your negative unhealthy boring lives ! So much for living in a county where your innocent before proven guilty ! What if it was someone you loved !!!

Maxromulan
Maxromulan

I thought only happy cows came from California. I guess they found one mad one, there's always one just like 9 out of 10 dentists prefer happy cows.

mitch young
mitch young

C'mon Jeff. Fraud on a massive scale. A surname ending in -ian. You know you want to comment. Just do it!

Zak
Zak

Nothing says she knew it was a scam only a trial will tell that, furthermore that has nothing to do with her goodwill in trying to save other kids from drug addiction.

Peter_J_Pitchess
Peter_J_Pitchess

A wonderful and TRUE story to commemorate the even MORE fraudulent; Armenian "Genocide" Remembrance Day" - I remember when Glendale was a nice place to live and our Government was being scammed by these hairy, smelly. bastards.

skinnygirl206
skinnygirl206

@Phukhugh


Both Sylvia Melkonian and Craig Shults were found guilty and are now  awaiting sentencing. Craig Schults is currently incarcerated. Write the judge and tell him to lock her up and throw away the key.

Dontoots
Dontoots

I do know her and she is a terrible human being. I hope she gets 100 years. What goes around comes around.

skinnygirl206
skinnygirl206

@Vida AlanizI think he was found not guilty.


Both Sylvia Melkonian and Craig Shults were found guilty and are now  awaiting sentencing. Craig Schults is currently incarcerated. Write the judge and tell him to lock her up and throw away the key.

Buttercup
Buttercup

 Would be interesting to know if she opened "REHAB" houses after her son died...now that's a SCAM, trading on the death of her son wouldn't be surprising if these charges are true and trust me, the fibbies look long and hard before pulling the trigger on these scam artists.

So, if she was running residential rehab? The authorities need to look into that profiteering "Business" too.

skinnygirl206
skinnygirl206

@Dontoots


Both Sylvia Melkonian and Craig Shults were found guilty and are now  awaiting sentencing. Craig Schults is currently incarcerated. Write the judge and tell him to lock her up and throw away the key.

Stket
Stket

 you go don!

paythepiper
paythepiper

 I also know her very well and she is Ruthless to her friends and family.  She will always screw over other people to benefit herself.  

skinnygirl206
skinnygirl206

@Buttercup If she could get away with it she would. She was just found guilty. 

skinnygirl206
skinnygirl206

@Stket


Both Sylvia Melkonian and Craig Shults were found guilty and are now  awaiting sentencing. Craig Schults is currently incarcerated. Write the judge and tell him to lock her up and throw away the key.

skinnygirl206
skinnygirl206

@paythepiper


Both Sylvia Melkonian and Craig Shults were found guilty and are now  awaiting sentencing. Craig Schults is currently incarcerated. Write the judge and tell him to lock her up and throw away the key.

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