LA developer found guilty in murder-for-hire and arson plots

Arthur Aslanian could get more than 60 years in prison

Arthur Aslanian (Hartsook Tenant Association)
Arthur Aslanian (Hartsook Tenant Association)

A federal jury has found Arthur Aslanian, a real estate developer from La Cañada Flintridge, guilty of plotting two murders for hire, as well as arson.

The decision came on July 7 from the U.S. District Court for California’s Central District after a five-day trial, the Department of Justice said in a press release

According to prosecutors, Aslanian plotted with an employee, Sesar Rivera, to hire a hitman to kill an attorney identified in court papers as M.Y. who had represented Aslanian in a bankruptcy proceeding. Aslanian refused to pay the attorney $261,000 in legal fees. M.Y. told Aslanian that he was prepared to sue if the fees were not paid. 

The real estate developer also conspired to kill a person identified as S.E. in court papers. S.E. prevailed in a lawsuit where Aslanian tried to take possession of a Brentwood home where S.E.’s parents lived.

In the summer of 2022, Rivera contacted a gang member with the offer that Aslanian would pay $20,000 for murder. Rivera used Facebook Messenger to deliver photos and information on the intended victims to the hitman. Law enforcement found out about the plot and warned the intended victims. On Sept. 7, cops questioned Riviera. Aslanian was arrested on Sept. 15.

Aslanian allegedly also paid a separate individual a sum of a few hundred dollars for setting fire to a vacant unit in Aslanian’s North Hollywood property in an effort to force out the building’s tenants. 

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Aslanian, 54, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy and use of interstate facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, as well as another count of use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire. The jury also found Aslanian guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit arson, a count of attempted arson, and another count of arson of a building used in interstate commerce.

The North Hollywood property involved in the arson charges consists of three lots located in the 11000 block of Hartsook Street, just east of Lankershim Boulevard in the booming NoHo Arts District. Tenants at the property have filed a civil suit against Aslanian, alleging assault and negligence to drive renters from the building. The arson plot also allegedly aimed to displace tenants to enable the demolition of the building and a redevelopment of the property into a 138-unit apartment complex.

U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal scheduled an Oct. 2 sentencing hearing. Aslanian will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for each murder-for-hire-related count and up to 20 years in federal prison for each arson-related count.