Chicago furrier pleads guilty in money laundering case

Andriana Furs boss hides drug proceeds
January 23, 2009 10:27:19 AM PST
The jingle is a staple of Chicago radio and TV commercials. "Andriana furs..." sings the female vocalist. Now, the owner of the Chicago fur chain is singing a different tune.

Sohrab Tebyanian, 62, of Chicago, sang a plea of guilty Friday morning to a federal judge in a money laundering conspiracy case. Far from the Boul Mich glamour depicted in Andriana's fur advertisements, Tebyanian's plea deal offers a look into a sordid tale of crack cocaine and ghostpayrolling...with a small fortune being laundered through the famous furrier.

The case was originally investigated and filed in Iowa, where three people who ran a cocaine trafficking ring for a decade aleady pleaded guilty last year in Davenport. The $3 million operation was run by Mario Murray and his mother Jeanette and a Chicago postal worker/courier Tina Hollins.

According to court documents: (Click Here to view the plea agreement)

Mario Murray first came to the attention of law enforcement in 1996, when Chicago police officers found crack cocaine and a gun in the home he shared with his parents.

In 2000, an officer from the Illinois State Police stopped Murray on Interstate 80 near Geneseo, Ill. The officer found $35,000 in cash in Murray's back seat. He seized the cash, which Murray said he was planning to buy a car with. Murray did not dispute the seizure, however.

About that time, Murray was working for Andriana Furs. The owner, Tebyanian, told federal authorities that Murray worked there for six months in 2000. However, W-2 forms were filed for Murray by Andriana Furs from 2000 onward. In the plea agreement Tebyanian admits that Murray did little if any work for the furrier and that it was part of a scheme to launder drug money.

Judge Wayne Andersen set sentencing for Tebyanian for 8:30 a.m. on April 16. Assistant US Attorney T. Markus Funk handled the plea agreement in Chicago. Defense attorney Mchael Monico represented Tebanian.