Prison term for St. Petersburg criminal investigation police officers with American trace

Prison term for St. Petersburg criminal investigation police officers with American trace

Three former criminal investigation police officers – Roman Kryukov, Sergey Toporkov, and Ageev – have been sentenced to four years in a standard regime penal colony each for swindling with an apartment belonging to a US citizen. Dmitry Ersh, a former Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia officer, was sentenced to the same term. The trial lasted for almost two years; the Vyborgsky District Court has recently delivered a judgment.

Real estate and extortion

The story began in 2013, when Kirill Bakharev reported to the police that some police officers are extorting 1.5 million rubles from him for non-initiation of a criminal case. The rogue operatives allegedly accused him of swindling with an apartment and demanded a bribe. He and his friend Olga Kozlova agreed and gave 250 thousand rubles to the extortionists as the first installment. Then they addressed the law enforcement authorities.

The above-mentioned apartment was located in the Nevsky district of St. Petersburg and belonged to some Ms. Alvarez, an American citizen. The lady has died oversees, and weird things started happening around her property. Bakharev and Kozlova tried to appropriate this apartment, and a new passport of Ms. Alvarez – but with photo of Olga Kozlova – has mysteriously emerged. The investigation believes that the rogue cops somehow got a photocopy of this passport and decided to make some money on the fraudsters. The policemen have developed a detailed plan involving fake arrests of Kozlova and Bakharev.

According to the investigation, the operatives expected that the swindlers would submissively give-up the money. First, they arrested Olga Kozlova. The policemen found that she works in a car wash on Severny avenue, approached her after work, officially identified themselves, and put her into the car. Then they showed her a photocopy of the fake passport and explained what perspectives she is facing with the Investigative Committee. The perspectives included an inevitable criminal prosecution, and the woman immediately gave them the address of her alleged accomplice Kirill Bakharev. The operatives repeated the trick with him: staged a fake arrest and described in detail his future punishment under Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Swindling). Finally, they made a proposal to Bakharev – the cost of freedom was 1.5 million rubles. In exchange for that amount, the criminal investigation policemen promised to forget about the passport and shady activities around the apartment. Bakharev and Kozlova agreed, gave 250 thousand to extortionists and addressed the Investigative Committee.

Our
notes
According to the Main Investigations Directorate for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (the ICR), 243 corruption-related criminal cases have been submitted to court in 2015: bribe taking and giving, swindling using the official capacity, abuse of power, etc. 287 officials have been prosecuted, including law enforcement officers, governmental executives, and representatives of local authorities. 

This is how the policemen Kryukov, Toporkov, and Ageev and Federal Penitentiary Service officer Ersh became suspects in a criminal case. They were charged with attempted swindling committed by an organized group and kidnapping committed by a group of persons for financial gain. Initially the detained officers admitted their guilt, but then withdrew their confessionary statements. Only Ageev has partially admitted his guilt and confirmed the receipt of 250 thousand rubles. Other officers provided a totally different version: the swindlers calumniated them – while the operatives were just performing investigative activities.

Clumsy criminal investigation

Despite the evidence provided by Ageev, the officers were standing firmly for their version. Their defense attorneys also insisted on their innocence during the trial. According to the lawyers, the operatives acted strictly in the framework of the Federal Law “On operative and investigative activities” and never violated the legislation. Bakharev and Kozlova attracted their attention as participants of a fraud scheme with the apartment belonging to a deceased US citizen. In addition to Bakharev and Kozlova, there were other accomplices to this swindling – and the operatives detained Bakharev and Kozlova in an attempt to identify them. Nobody extorted no money from nobody; nobody received 250 thousand rubles. All testimonies by prosecution witnesses are just revenge and primitive calumny. And the original confessionary statements had been made by the ex-officers under pressure of the investigator who threatened to arrest them and put to Kresti prison, should they decline to admit their guilt.

However, only Dmitry Ersh was detained prior to the trial, while other suspects only had to sign a written undertaking not to leave the place. Also Ageev has confirmed his testimony that he received this sum from Ersh but did not participate directly in the kidnapping. It also turned out that Ersh had received the money from some unidentified person.

The Vyborgsky District Court spent two years sorting out and examining all these nuances, twists, and turns – from 2014 to 2016. The trial has been also procrastinated because the Vsevolzhsky City Court of the Leningrad Region was simultaneously hearing another case against Kryukov and Toporkov charged with exceeding official powers. In addition, the defendants actively requested to return the criminal case to the prosecutor claiming that the indictment was produced with violations of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation. At least, this is what Kryukov stated to journalists.

The verdict was announced only in June 2016, and it was quite different from what the prosecution had expected.

The judicial investigation has determined that Kryukov, Toporkov, Ageev, and Ersh claimed to be officers of the General Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation (the MIA) – although they were not. The suspects illegally held Kozlova and Bakharev for long periods of time, transporting them in cars and demanding money. Upon receipt of the 250 thousand rubles, the rogue cops expected to get the balance of 1.25 million rubles as well, and they never gave up these demands. However, the investigation failed to identify the person acting as the intermediary in the transfer of the 250 thousand rubles.

Still, the investigation managed to dig up some information on the exceeding of official powers by Kryukov and Ersh – which added charges under Article 286 of the Criminal Code to the indictment.

Our
notes
According to the Russian MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, 570 corruption crimes have been registered in 2015. Over 90% suspects have been prosecuted. In addition, over 500 crimes committed by organized groups have been solved.

A wrong charge

It is necessary to note that the indictment was based on confessionary statements of Kozlova and Bakharev, who came to the Investigative Committee and surrendered themselves, – and have been sentenced for swindling with the apartment of the American citizen before the beginning of trial of the police officers. Due to this circumstance, the court has partially changed its position with regards to kidnapping charges laid against the policemen. The judge decided that Kryukov, Toporkov, Ageev, and Ersh did not kidnap anybody, and Article 126 of the Criminal Code is not applicable in this case. In other words, the kidnapping was an element of swindling because this was the intent of the suspects.

Ultimately, the Vyborgsky District Court has found Kryukov, Toporkov, Ageev, and Ersh guilty under part 3 of Article 30 and part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Attempted Swindling committed by persons through their official position, as well as on a large scale).

The court noted that the crime hasn’t been completed due to circumstances beyond suspects’ control. According to the court, these circumstances included the decision of Kirill Bakharev not to give the rest of money to the policemen and his further surrender to the Investigative Committee. This is why the suspects did not get the full amount.

During the court debates, the state prosecutor has withdrawn charges under item (b) of part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code (Exceeding Official Powers with the use of arms or special means) against Kryukov and Ersh because it was determined that Kryukov and Ersh did not use their official powers in this crime. Still, the court has added up the prison term for Kryukov and Toporkov adjudged by the Vsevolzhsky City Court for another criminal episode, in which they were found guilty of exceeding official powers.

Our
notes

In 2013 the Investigative Committee announced that 2 suspects in the American’s apartment case will be also tried in the Leningrad region for an episode dated 2011. The policemen were accused on swindling and exceeding official powers. In addition to Kryukov and Toporkov, the following persons were in the prisoners’ box: Grigor Abgaryan, a former Deputy Chief of the 128th Police Department of the MIA Administration for the Vsevolzhsky District of the Leningrad Region; operatives Maksim Maksimov and Aleksey Pichugin; Eduard Salikhov; and drug-dependent Olga Krauze.

According to the investigation, in December 2011 and May 2012, Abgaryan and his subordinates decided to improve the crime solving rate for drug-related offences. To do so, they forged test results for two men. The fact of fraud has been proven in the court. The case against the accused drug addicts was dismissed due to the exonerating circumstances. Toporkov and Kryukov were charged with attempted swindling using the official powers, service fraud, and exceeding official powers.

Ultimately, the four defendants – Kryukov, Toporkov, Ageev, and Ersh – were sentenced to 4 years in a standard regime penal colony each. Kryukov and Toporkov got additional 6 months behind bars and deprivation of the right to be employed in law enforcement on positions involving functions of a public authority for 3 years.

Because during the investigation and trial, restrictions for the three suspects were limited to an undertaking not to leave, after the sentencing the court has changed the preventive measure to detention. This was a surprise for the defendants, and the former policemen had to sustain a few unpleasant minutes while being handcuffed in the courtroom. But despite an obviously light sentence, the convicted defendants disagreed with it and announced their intention to appeal it.

The sentence hasn’t come into effect yet because the defendants are waiting for the appeal at the second instance – in the St. Petersburg City Court.


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