Skip to comments.Prosecutors outline case of bodies dumped in Calif. reservoir
Posted on 09/06/2006 3:38:15 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
Two Russian immigrants looking to amass $50 million concocted a kidnapping-for-ransom scheme that ended with the bodies of five people dumped in a Northern California reservoir, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.
The trial of Iouri Mikhel and Jurijus Kadamovas opened with Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan DeWitt telling jurors the two men oversaw a crew who kidnapped and later killed the victims regardless of whether ransoms were paid.
"No matter how much they (victims) cooperated or how much money was paid for their release, they were killed," DeWitt said. "The defendants did not want to leave witnesses alive."
Mikhel, 41, and Kadamovas, 39, have pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy and hostage-taking resulting in death. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
Authorities allege the pair orchestrated the kidnapping and eventual murder of real estate developer Meyer Muscatel; Russian banking mogul George Safiev; Safiev's accountant Rita Peckler; Safiev's business partner Nick Kharabadze; and Alexander Umansky, who owned a car accessory business.
The motive was greed, with Mikhel and Kadamovas spending the ransom money on expensive cars and luxury homes, the prosecutor said.
"This was business as usual for them," DeWitt said. "This is how they afforded their lavish lifestyle."
The victims were lured to businesses and homes owned by Mikhel and Kadamovas and then taken captive, DeWitt said. The family and associates of three victims paid $1.2 million in ransom.
The bodies were later dumped in a reservoir north of Yosemite National Park.
Three people have pleaded guilty in the case. One, the girlfriend of Kadamovas, will likely testify during the trial. Another defendant, Petro Krylov, is scheduled for trial in January after pleading not guilty.
In court Wednesday, Kadamovas wore a brown sweater and glasses and listened to his interpreter. Mikhel, in a prison-issued jumpsuit, shook his head several times during DeWitt's statement.
Defense attorneys planned to make their opening statements later Wednesday.
Authorities learned the location of the bodies after arresting a coconspirator who pleaded guilty in the case. Autopsies determined all the victims were either asphyxiated or strangled.
DeWitt said jurors will hear testimony of Kadamovas telling one coconspirator that he wanted to make $50 million from the hostage-taking endeavor and that the bodies would be stacked on top of one another until they reached the top of the reservoir.
Prosecutors intend to present tape recordings of ransom calls; DNA belonging to two victims collected from handcuffs; and a pair of shoes that matched a bloody footprint found on a bridge near the reservoir.
During the prosecution's opening statement, DeWitt showed the jury pictures of the victims on a large video monitor and outlined how they were killed. Family and friends of the victims were in court, some wiping away tears as the prosecutor spoke.
The defendants were described as ruthless by DeWitt, who said Mikhel and Kadamovas promised Peckler she would be drugged and left alive in a hotel.
"She wasn't left in a hotel," DeWitt said. "She was left in watery grave."
I've got a spare aluminum bat...
I'll TAKE it!!
Russian mob scum.
Ruskie mafia, they are all over the left coast.
I wonder if they chose fellow Russians as their victims because they knew the families/associates wouldn't involve the authorities? I am guessing that if the authorities were involved from the start these guys wouldn't have collected any ransom successfully, as they did.
Could be Hetch Hetchy resevoir, San Francisco's water supply.
70 years of Progressive Socialism brought us people like this.
Edward Banfield would chalk this up to the fact that Russia- whether Tsarist, Bolshevic, or Putinville- is morally bankrupt and it will always breed this criminal culture.
Look what it did in the last century.
Anti-death penalty jackasses: Assemble here!
Wow - what a surprise it's the hate-mongering self-loathing Slav with his favorite link! I wondered what took you so long. Since your ancestors hail from that region I'll consider this, "morally bankrupt and ...criminal culture." to be what you must see when you look in the mirror.
Why do you think so many in organized crime are from Russia?
PS - kind of interesting you would choose a man who explained why US inner-cities were rotting and then try to ascribe racist thought to his works. Saying Edward Banfield would call an ethnicity "morally bankrupt" and only able to breed a "Criminal Culture" is lending creedence to the leftist critics who labeled him a racist. Shame on you.
So why do you think so many in organized crime are Russian?
And your comments betray an ignorance of Banfields's "Moral Basis of Backward Society".
So many in organized crime are Russian? Here or there? Love to hear your take on Americans of Sicilian or Italian heritage.
No - your comments pervert what Banfield was saying. All you are doing is telling us your own genetic makeup (Slavic) makes you more prone to crime and evilness. Banfield was talking about social aspects, not inherited ones.