TAMPA — For a mere $5,000, Edmon Vardanyan brutally attacked an elderly couple three times, hitting them with a hammer and fracturing their skulls.
The man who ordered the attacks wanted money from the couple, his in-laws. Vardanyan needed money, too, he told a federal judge Friday.
"I was trying to prove something, I guess," said Vardanyan, 24, an Armenian immigrant who made his home in Tampa.
Saying his actions demonstrated a depraved mind, Chief U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich sentenced Vardanyan to 20 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. He will be deported after his sentence.
"Could have been your own mother," the judge told him.
Vardanyan was on probation for credit card fraud when he carried out three separate attacks, two in Brooklyn, N.Y., and one in Sarasota, between September 2006 and April 2007. He was paid by Alex Shevgert, who had received tens of thousands of dollars from his in-laws to start businesses that always failed and grew angry when the couple cut off their financial support.
The plan, defense attorneys said, was to hurt the couple, not kill them. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Porcelli said the victims, Grigori and Galina Komissarchuk, came close to dying.
Shevgert was convicted in November of conspiracy to travel with the intent to kill, injure and harass another person and two counts of aiding and abetting another person to travel and carry out the attacks. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.
Vardanyan and two other co-conspirators pleaded guilty. Larik Cholak, who recruited Vardanyan, got a break for helping the government crack the case against Shevgert and testifying against him at his trial. Kovachevich sentenced him to nearly 3 1/2 years in prison and three years of supervised release.
Sergey Zub, the getaway driver, received 21/2 years in prison.
Colleen Jenkins can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3337.