Black Realtors gang — Wife of swindling lawmaker is to spend 7 years in prison
In July the Moscow District Court issued a verdict against Svetlana Konakova. Together with her husband, a former municipal Deputy Andrey Konakov, she organized a criminal group, specializing in fraud with housing of lonely and elderly residents of St. Petersburg. They were assisted by a notary, several employees of the regional MIA department, the staff of the Moscow Region Immigration and Civil Registration Service and 15 other associates.
An imprisonment term for a large group of swindlers
Svetlana Konakova was a defendant in a whole variety of crimes. In particular, she was accused of organizing a criminal group, swindling, attempted swindling, committed by an organized group, and bribery. According to investigators, she and her husband, who had already stopped working in the municipal service at MO Zvezdnoe by that time, established a real estate agency. In addition to providing services to the public, the couple engaged in theft from dead owners of apartments. Criminal actions also involved law enforcement officers, a notary, and employees of the district administration. Obtaining information about the real estate of deceased citizens, scammers mislead their close ones. They forged wills and legal documents for the apartments. To legitimize their business, they resold housings several times. But more often the damaged party was the government. Rogues sought out the lonely and the elderly in St. Petersburg, who did not have any relatives. The fraud was stamped out on the assembly line.
Employees of the housing agency supplied Konakovo with information about the apartments, where a lonely owner died. A district police inspector entered a housing and registered the death as non-criminal, collecting all the documents of the deceased along the way. For some time, the Civil Registry Offices remained unaware of the fact that a citizen died. At least until the fraudsters managed to re-register the property to false spouses and other non-existent close relatives.
According to the investigation, from 2002 to 2010, associates stole 13 apartments and 1 room in a communal housing, worth a total of 20.55 million rubles, which amounted to 20 criminal episodes.
However, unlike other criminal groups, the Konakovs did not engage in murders and abduction of citizens. They targeted single citizens, preferably living in rooms or apartments under contracts of social hiring. A few deft manipulations, and they produced documents, which stated that the deceased had conducted various legal procedures with their housing before death. Once the ex-lawmaker and his wife got very lucky — they found their honeypot. A certain Kuznetsov was notorious for his extraordinary ability to change photos in passports. This way, a passport brought from an apartment by a local police officer, could be used by a new owner. Thus the dead started to actively sell their real estate.
It took law enforcement authorities nearly 7 years to catch the crooks. In the end, the fraudsters decided that they would never be caught, and started making embarrassing mistakes. In one case, they were beaten by a house manager, who reported about the death of the owner to the registry office, and the already sold apartment fell under suspicion. In another case, the scammers brashly sold an empty apartment, but it turned out that the owner was alive and well. A series of mishaps led Svetlana Konakova to the investigator's office.
As a result, Konakova was charged with 8 crimes. It is worth noting that the realtor did not put on an act and confessed everything. A pre-trial agreement was concluded, and so only one court hearing was needed. For the combination of the crimes committed and by partial addition of the terms, the court sentenced her to 7 years in a penal colony. However, two more years had passed before the verdict was delivered, because in 2014, the Moscow District Court returned the case to the prosecutor. This was an uncommon situation for the cases, in which the defendant makes a deal with the investigation, but the court pointed to certain procedural violations. According to some reports, this had happened because a high-profile process loomed ahead that by all indications promised to be difficult. Nobody wanted to give a group of defendants in uniform a chance to nibble once again.
For her active cooperation with investigators, Konakova received quite a soft term of 7 years in a penal colony of general regime and went to prison, where she could send letters to her convicted husband.
Andrey Konakov also became one of the main witnesses for the prosecution at a high-profile process to condemn former law enforcement officers. However, it happened two years before his wife’s case. In February 2014, the same District Court of Moscow found him guilty of Organizing a Criminal Group and Participation in It (part 1 of Art. 210 of the Russian Criminal Code).
When he came into the investigator's office and realized what he was facing, Konakov immediately admitted his guilt, sincerely repented and agreed to testify against his accomplices. He was accused of 8 criminal episodes of backdated registration of documents for the apartments of the deceased St. Petersburg citizens, and was sentenced to 7 years in prison. However, Konakov, who had sincerely sold his associates, was not satisfied with the term, and appealed to the St. Petersburg City Court (his appeal was 150 pages).
The court took the side of the penitent, and supported him against the ingratitude of the state, decided to cancel the verdict and return the case for reconsideration in another composition of the court.
The re-hearing of the case took place in the Vasileostrovsky District Court. In the end, the defendant was able to reduce the term of his punishment. By decision of the District Court, the former member of the municipal council of the MO Zvezdnoe Andrey Konakov was sentenced to 6 years and 1 month, without a fine.
However, it was quite clear why both the court and the state prosecution decided in favor of the accused. His testimony served as the basis for the cases against the remaining 20 members of the criminal organization, and those defendants were very difficult. Among them, a former district commissioner of Internal Affairs of the Vyborg district, a police duty officer police of the 11th department of the Moscow district of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region, Chief and his deputy of the Moscow Region immigration and civil registration office, a notary, and 15 other accomplices. From the very beginning, it was clear that none of them was going down without a fight. Especially since the number of indictments they were facing was much greater than that of the Konakovs.Our
The case of the black realtors gang is not the only criminal scandal connected to Andrey Konakov and law enforcers. In 2006-2007, he was mixed in the arrest of the deputy prosecutor of the Moscow Region Alexey Yakovlev and the prosecutor’s office investigator Alexey Prokofiev. In 2006, the Moscow Prosecutor's Office filed two criminal cases against the municipal Andrey Konakov. He was suspected of misuse of funds of the municipal budget. Prokofiev offered him to hush up the case for 100 thousand dollars. In return, the Prosecutor’s subordinates promised to stop the investigation of criminal cases and return the documents that had been seized during the investigation. The lawmaker pretended to agree, but reported to the Federal Security Service (FSB). At the meeting, he had a suitcase full of marked money and a microphone under his clothes. The prosecutor’s employees were taken in the act. Alexey Yakovlev was sentenced to 4 years in a strict regime colony, and a former senior investigator Prokofiev received 4 years of probation.
As the ICR press office in St. Petersburg reported, the other members of the criminal group had been charged depending on their role "in the crimes under parts 2, 3 of Art. 210, parts 3, 4 of Art. 159, part 3 of Art. 290, part 1 of Art. 285, part 2 of Art. 291 of the Russian Criminal Code (Participation in a criminal organization, Swindling, Bribe-Taking, Bribe-Giving, Abuse of Official Powers)." The investigation of that criminal case lasted three years. The amount of material was 100 volumes. During the commission of crimes, the accused used all of their professional knowledge and skills in order not to fall under suspicion of their colleagues. They changed their cell phones and attracted third parties to perform part of their criminal actions. Many of these third parties were not even aware that they were committing unlawful acts.
According to the investigation, the majority of participants in the process refuse to plead guilty and make any deal with the investigation. The testimony of their former underworld boss is the key to their fate and the success of public prosecutor. Nobody doubts that the process will last for quite some time. After all, there are too many defendants in the case.
In addition, according to some sources, it will not the last trial of the participants in the criminal group. Recently, the police arrested another alleged member of the destroyed organization. It turned out to be a 59-year-old citizen, who pasted his photo in the passport of a 57-year-old St. Petersburg citizen and fraudulently took possession of his apartment. A criminal case was initiated. Now the police are carrying out investigative actions to establish additional facts of the detainee’s criminal activity. Thus, new criminal episodes in this case cannot be ruled out.