Skip to comments.Feds to seek death penalty in case of body dumps near Yosemite (Russian organized crime)
Posted on 09/04/2006 12:31:01 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
The demands of the kidnappers were simple: Pay the ransom and the hostages would be freed.
But prosecutors said the crew of Russian immigrants killed their hostages anyway - even after collecting $1 million from some of the victims' relatives.
More than four years after the five bodies were found in a reservoir north of Yosemite National Park, opening statements are expected this week in the federal trial of two men accused of orchestrating the crimes.
It's a rare instance in which federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
"Regardless of whether the ransom money defendants demanded was paid or not, each of the defendants' victims met the same fate," prosecutors said in court documents. "Defendants brutally murdered each one of them."
Iouri Mikhel, 41, and Jurijus Kadamovas, 39, have pleaded not guilty to charges that include conspiracy and hostage-taking resulting in death. A third defendant, Petro Krylov, 33, is scheduled for trial in January after denying the allegations.
Three other coconspirators have pleaded guilty to similar charges. One is the girlfriend of Kadamovas, who will likely testify during the upcoming trial.
Authorities suspect the ring had links to Russian organized crime, but it appears prosecutors won't raise that issue during trial because no racketeering charges have been filed.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys declined to comment about the case.
The indictment, however, provides a detailed look at the kidnappings that occurred over a frenzied four-month period beginning in late 2001.
The documents allege the crew demanded a total of more than $5.5 million from relatives and associates of the victims, and eventually collected about $1.2 million that was used to buy expensive cars and make mortgage payments on luxury homes.
Mikhel used $2,500 to put a down payment on two Doberman pinschers to guard his house, the documents state.
At trial, prosecutors intend to present tape recordings of ransom calls; DNA belonging to two victims collected from handcuffs; and a pair of shoes that were matched to a bloody footprint found on a bridge near the reservoir.
The scheme began when Mikhel and Kadamovas targeted George Safiev, 37, a wealthy Russian banking mogul who had recently moved to Los Angeles to start Matador Media, a film production company, the documents state.
But after several failed abduction attempts and discussions about staging a car accident, the kidnappers turned their attention to real estate developer Meyer Muscatel, according to the documents.
Mikhel is accused of posing as a possible investor and luring Muscatel to what was billed as a business meeting in October 2001. Kidnappers killed him after they were unable to get money from his bank accounts, the documents state.
His body was weighted down and dumped over a bridge along the New Melones Reservoir. It was discovered a few days later, hands bound and a plastic bag over his head.
Prosecutors wrote that Safiev's accountant, Rita Peckler, was abducted and killed two months later when she was unable to lead the crew to Safiev.
The next victim was Alexander Umansky, who owned a car accessory business that once employed Krylov. Umansky was killed after his family paid more than $230,000 for his release, documents state, adding the crew sought even more money after his death, promising he would be returned alive.
Prosecutors wrote that Safiev was finally snared in early 2002 after his business partner, Nick Kharabadze, was abducted and forced to arrange a meeting with Safiev. Another business associate transferred $960,000 to a bank account that authorities said was controlled by the kidnappers.
Still, Safiev and Kharabadze were killed and dumped into the reservoir after being told they would be left alive at a motel, the documents state.
Authorities learned the location of the bodies after arresting a coconspirator who later pleaded guilty in connection with the case. Autopsies determined all the victims were either asphyxiated or strangled.
As authorities closed in, members of the crew flew to Aspen, Colo., a playground for the rich, and planned a trip to Florida to attend a yacht show to identify other possible victims, documents show.
Before his arrest, Kadamovas told one suspected accomplice that more bodies would be dumped in the reservoir and eventually "'stacked on top of each other,'" according to the court documents.
Unfortunately you're applying American philosophy to foreign states. If you call a Russian a Ukrainian, he'll pop you in the nose and vice versa. The same reaction a Texan would have if I called him an Okie. However, both are Americans. As far as this case is concerned: Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, etc., are ALL Sovereign Nations. The Soviet Union, thanks to Ronald Reagan, ceased to exist Dec 91.
If you were born in
RUSSIA TEXAS or call Russia Texas your home... I don't give a ##%@ what color, creed, religion, whatever, you are. You are RUSSIAN TEXAN.
Still agree with that logic consdering we have yankee transplants, illegal aliens and muslims that refuse to assimilate here?
Actually, I am sure both of us can dig up plenty of examples of chess champions, inventors, etc., being to referred to as "russki" vs. "rossi'ski" without anyone bothering to correct the "error". This issue only comes up when criminals are being discussed :)
Actually, at least on FR, it comes up often. You know - with the "Russians" Stalin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Beria, Menzhinsky, Yagoda, Drzhenskij, Khrushev, Brezhnev being used as examples by some to show "inherent evil" in the Russian race. Of course, you're surely well aware that the above are Georgian, Jewish, Mengrelian, Polish, and Ukrainian... ;)
This is a common trait regardless of the country. Mel Gibson was called an "Australian" by the British press until he made "Braveheart" and then they "discovered" his American origins...
PS - Richard Harris used to say the Brits would call him British when he received awards and accolades and label him Irish when he was arrested or made a drunken spectacle of himself.
I definately see your point, but this is not due to some conspiracy - there's just no seperate terms for Russki and Rossi'ski. Just as there's no separate terms to distinguish ethnicity and nationality when it comes to French, Italian, etc.
Agreed, but Kaganovich was from Ukraine, Stalin from Georgia, and Beria a Mengrelian from Georgia - all separate countries before the disaster.
It got a fair amount of local play in L.A. when they were arrested a couple of years ago.
Well Georgia and Ukraine were part of the Russian empire before the revolution :)
Of course. I'm not talking about personal opinion here. I'm talkin geographical fact.
Well you do have a point.... Too bad the only time they got together in cooperation was to destroy an "empire" and its inhabitants
What did ya expect from commmies?
Death, mayhem, repression, you know - Raj na zemle! ;)
Georgian and Ukrainian patriots fought against the Bolshevik Red Army with the west's help just like the White Russians did.
TGJ - true, and Georgian and Ukrainian communists fought against these guys. However, you are overplaying the support the West gave. It was minimal and token, at best. The US wasn't a superpower at the time and actually allowed our troops to be placed under British command.
This is the slippery slope one finds himself located on when trying to blame ethnic groups for crimes committed by people following an ideology. I've said it on here a million times (so it seems) - the Soviets (Commies, Bolsheviks, whatever) committed crimes against all ethnic groups and unfortunately they were assisted in this by members of virtually all major ethnic groups. Had they not been, they would not have been able to be so "successful."
When this sort of ethnic-based hate rhetoric gets out of hand you wind up with the situation we have currently in that region of the world. Yeltsin and other post-Communist leaders of the various republics failed their collective peoples by not joining together and condemning Soviet crimes as being perpetuated on the local populaces. There is not a country today that was a part of the Soviet Union that doesn't have some accounting to do - be it Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, or the various Stans, Kavkaz countries, and the Baltics.
It sounds to me like you are engaging in the same ethnic demonization and scapegoating you decry and a bit of revanchist Russian revisionism too by blaming Russia's neighbors for their own civil war.
Speaking of "Ad na zemle", have you guys seen this video yet -
Have sound on. Understanding russian helps, but if you don't, see it anyway. The most dramatic piece of war footage I've ever seen.
TGJ, I did put the blame on the Georgian and Ukrainian communists - as it was clearly implied in my statements or do I have to be exactly 100% concrete/no inferences/ with you for you to understand? And before you go saying I'm engaging in demonization and scape-goating, go back and read what I wrote and take note I included Russia on the list along side Georgia, Ukraine, etc.
Doesn't surprise me one bit SOBR was doing the actual fighting. The Russian Army is broken and nowhere's near being fixed. It's been 10 years since that video was shot and, in my opinion, the Russian Army has gotten worse. It'll continue to get worse until they fire the fat generals, do away with conscription, and train a professional NCO corps. That Putin and Ivanov haven't been able to get this even started shows just how weak they are and how much perceived power the "military establishment" still has.
Yep, that video is from the first Chechen war. I think doing away with conscription should be the first step. Also, I have a documentary on Russian Orthodox churches in Chechnya. Its called "Mirotvorzi" ("Peacekeppers"). If you want, I can send it over.