A Los Angeles man indicted on charges that he led a prostitution ring in Southern California—including at an apartment complex on the eastern edge of Santa Monica—pleaded not guilty on Monday.
Mher Hakopyan, who also goes by the name Mike Akopyan, was indicted June 27 of 18 counts of conspiracy to transport for prostitution and eight counts of bringing undocumented workers to the country for private financial gain.
Authorities said Hakopyan, 38, partnered with his wife, Natalya Muravyeva, 31, and ex-wife, Alla Kassianova, 43, to bring or attempt to bring as many as 14 women from Eastern Europe to work as prostitutes in Los Angeles. The trio allegedly used recruiters to scout women, then purchased their plane tickets and coached them on how to enter the United States.
Once in the Los Angeles area, they allegedly helped the women find housing and posted provocative pictures of them online. An affadavit filed in federal court in Santa Ana identifies three women who worked from two separate units at an apartment complex at 2200 Colorado Ave.
A sting conducted by the Santa Monica Police Department in February uncovered a brothel there that led to the arrest of one Russian woman. Detectives also collected evidence that included condoms, lube and about $8,000.
U.S. District Court Judge Marc L. Goldman set a trial date on Monday for Hakopyan of Aug. 21. Hakopyan is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on Aug. 13.