Gagik Levonian, a career criminal in then-Soviet Armenia, was offered the choice of prison or emigration to the United States. He came to the States as a “refugee” with 300 carats of diamonds, many antique icons, jewelry, Caucasian and Persian rugs and a large bank account in the Cayman Islands. He used what he brought with him to open a wholesale jewelry store and purchased three gas stations.
His obligations to the Soviet Union died with its demise. He became a citizen of the United States, purchased a 4,000-square-foot house in the hills over Los Angeles and became an officer of the Los Angeles Armenian Businessman's Association.
However, Levonian never lost his Armenian patriotism. He hated everything Turkish because of what he called the Armenian genocide carried out by the Turkish government at the beginning of the 20th century. At one point he was approached for a contribution by a representative of an Armenian political party whose purpose was to kill Turkish diplomats. He wanted to donate to the cause, but his wealth was locked in property. Right around this time, he decided to up the insurance on his house and its contents . . . just in case something were to happen.
His insurance agent, Hrant Aratian (a friend of Armenian descent who shared his attitude toward Turks), went to a representative of Goodfaith Insurance Company and ...