Policeman, security guard and criminal staged a play in pre-trial detention facility to get 2.5 million 

Policeman, security guard and criminal staged a play in pre-trial detention facility to get 2.5 million
Actors in uniform wanted to trick a businessman out of 2.5 million rubles and staged a play in the pre-trial detention facility

What can bring together a police officer, a criminal and a security guard of a pre-trial detention facility? They tried to deceive an Astrakhan businessman into parting with a big money. The businessman was waiting for the end of the investigation in detention – and they staged a play that was a true piece of art. Too bad, the authors and actors won’t get an Oscar for this performance – instead, they have got an attempted swindling charge.

Fake FSB officer

According to the web-site of the Prosecutor’s Office, Aleksey Emelyanov, the Deputy Head of the Department in the Privolzhsky District of the Administration in the Astrakhan Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation; Sergey Polyansky, the Lead Investigator of the Operational Department of the Pre-trial Detention Facility № 1; and Vitaly Smirnov, a convicted murderer, have been charged under part 3 of Article 30 (Attempted Crime) and part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Swindling on an especially large scale). The investigation of this criminal case has been completed and the materials submitted to court. 

Here is the story. A security guard in the Pre-trial Detention Facility № 1 has heard that Yuri Gudkovsky, the General Director of Belye Kholmy (White Hills) Fishing and Hunting Lodge, would be transferred to this penitentiary institution soon. The businessman was charged under part 3 of Article 238 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Rendering of Services which do not meet safety standards and have entailed by negligence the death of two or more persons). Sergey Polyansky assumed that the new inmate is a wealthy person and placed his henchman into his cell.

The criminal serving a term for murder has quickly gained trust of the cellmate. Vitaly Smirnov convinced the businessman that he has good connections in the law enforcement authorities and can help him. Yuri Gudkovsky could purportedly escape the criminal prosecution for 2.5 million rubles. Of course, the detainee Smirnov had no real possibility to affect the investigation of the criminal case against Gudkovsky in any way.

СИЗО-1

Photo: the pre-trial Detention Facility № 1 of the Administration in the Astrakhan Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia 

The director of the tourism lodge has been placed to an institution of the penal and correctional system for the first time in his life, and he was really scared. He believed the experienced cellmate and grasped at his proposal as at a straw. Contrary to the regime regulations, the security guard gave a cellphone to the businessman; Gudkovsky contacted his family and instructed the relatives to pay 1.5 million rubles to his new friends. The director promised to pay the rest of money to the scammers after his release. 

Upon the receipt of the partial payment, Sergey Polyansky and Vitaly Smirnov started figuring out how to get the outstanding million rubles. They decided to put psychological pressure on their victim and engaged their mutual acquaintance – Aleksey Emelyanov, the Deputy Head of the Department in the Privolzhsky District of the Russian MIA Administration in the Astrakhan Region. He illegally entered the cell of Gudkovsky in the pre-trial detention facility and introduced himself as an officer of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation. According to his role, the malefactor has guaranteed a quick release to the businessman should he pay the remaining million rubles. 

The play performed by the policeman for the director of the tourism lodge was pretty convincing but has not brought the desired result because the blatant violations of the detention facility regime committed by Sergey Polyansky attracted attention of the Department of Internal Security of the Administration in the Astrakhan Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia. Following a Prosecutor’s audit conducted by the watchdog agency jointly with real FSB operatives, a criminal case has been initiated by the investigative authorities.

Monies of scared businessmen

An officer of the penitentiary system of the Astrakhan region told the CrimeRussia on condition of anonymity that such incidents are pretty common in pretrial detention facilities and prisons. 

“In the institution where I work, people know everything about each other. The financial situation of suspects and convicts is not a secret for nobody. If somebody has money, his criminal cellmates would try to trick him out of those. First, they amicably hint to share the money; if this does not work, they would start intimidating him,” – the officer (let’s call him Mikhail) told. 

Mikhail has heard that prison guards also try to squeeze as much as possible from detained businessmen, but he states that he had never done this. 

“It is impossible to conceal your wealth from cellmates and guards. Everything exposes a wealthy man: from the condition of his hands to behavior patterns in communication with other inmates. Not to mention parcels with delicacies and female relatives in mink coats visiting the detainee. It is easy to scare a person, especially if he has been detained for the first time. Who would refuse the money flowing right to the hands? Especially among our contingent?” – Mikhail explained.

He recalled an episode when the director of a construction company was charged with defrauding his investors. He had collected hundreds of millions of rubles from them, promising to build housing, but has not done this. The news that this person is to be transferred to our pre-trial detention facility has become immediately known in all cells. Everybody wanted him in their cell to intimidate and squeeze some money. Inmates offered bribes to guards asking to put the fraudster into their cell. Ultimately, the local criminal lord has gained the right to milk the director of the construction company.

“There were rumors that the scared businessman had to give dozens of millions of rubles to this criminal,” – the penitentiary officer tells.

What was the crime of the tourism lodge director?

Yuri Gudkovsky, the General Director of Belye Kholmy (White Hills) Fishing and Hunting Lodge, has been placed to the Pre-trial Detention Facility № 1 because of a fire that had resulted in four fatalities. According to the press service of the Regional Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), on the night of August 20 to 21, 2016, a cottage rented by tourists from Moscow burnt down. 

Belye Kholmy lodge is located in the Akhtuba district of the Astrakhan region, six kilometers southwest from Bataevka village. Fishers, hunters, and fans of family outdoor recreation often come here, to a confluence of three rivers – Volga, Akhtuba, and Gerasimovka. This tourism facility mostly serves visitors from Moscow who are able to afford its prices.

According to the web site of Belye Kholmy Limited Liability Company, the cost to rent a cottage in the lodge is some 4.5 thousand rubles per day. Use of a bath house would cost 1 thousand rubles per hour. The price of a bath besom is 200 rubles. Services of a professional huntsman or renting a vehicle would also cost a while.

Коттеджи

Photo: Fire occurred in one of such cottages in Belye Kholmy lodge (Photo from the company web site)

The unfortunate fire has occurred due to a short circuit and damaged not only the roof and finishing of a bungalow with the living space of 36 square meters, but also two cars parked nearby. The flames have devoured the house in seconds. Two 25-year-old girls and a man of the same age have died at the scene. Another male victim, 31 year old, had been transported to the Akhtuba District Hospital with severe burns and soon succumbed to his injuries. There was also a small child with the adults; he was not harmed but became an orphan. 

The tragedy had serious implications. Operatives of the Investigations Directorate for the Astrakhan Region of the ICR have charged Yuri Gudkovsky, the General Director of Belye Kholmy Lodge, under part 3 of Article 238 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Rendering of Services which do not meet safety standards and have entailed by negligence the death of two or more persons). The cottages rented to the tourists were not equipped with a fire safety system and fire extinguishers. 

The businessman is facing up to 10 years behind bars or 5 years of correctional labor.

Wanted to remain in the police ranks

After the initiation of a criminal case against the policeman who had impersonated a FSB officer, Aleksey Emelyanov, the Deputy Head of the MIA Department in the Privolzhsky District, has been dismissed “due to an action discrediting the MIA officer”. 

His past career was pretty successful though. In 2010, Aleksey Emelyanov, then-Lead Investigator of the Criminal Investigation Department, was awarded a Certificate of Merit of the Astrakhan Regional Duma of the Fourth Convocation. He was a perspective police officer, favored by the command. And then, as of a sudden… 

Emelyanov disagreed with his dismissal and even disputed it. Rospravosudie.com web portal has published the verdict of the Kirovsky District Court of Astrakhan in the lawsuit filed by Emelyanov against the Regional MIA Administration requesting to annul the dismissal order and reinstate him in the MIA ranks. The former Deputy Head of the Police Department of the Privolzhsky District considered the actions of his command illegal because he was removed from the position prior to the final verdict in his criminal case.

The court has dismissed the lawsuit by Aleksey Emelyanov and ruled that his dismissal from the police ranks was legitimate because the law enforcement officer had entered into a criminal conspiracy with convicted murderer Vitaly Smirnov because of sordid motives. The court has qualified the actions of the former Deputy Head of the Police Department of the Privolzhsky District as an erosion of the MIA credibility among the Russian society.

Отрывок постановления суда

Photo: Abbreviate of the adjudication 

The court has also found that, in addition to the attempt to trick Yuri Gudkovsky into paying one million rubles, Aleksey Emelyanov and Vitaly Smirnov had other non-service relations. In particular, under the color of performing investigative actions, the police officer had illegally transported the convict from the Pre-trial Detention Facility № 1 to a rented apartment where the criminal has celebrated his jubilee birthday with relatives and friends. This gross violation of the penitentiary regime has been proven in court by testimonies of witnesses. 

In other words, Aleksey Emelyanov and Vitaly Smirnov were familiar, and the police officer had committed offences for the benefit of the criminal.

Murderer was an accomplice to law enforcement officers

The personality of Vitaly Smirnov, an inmate of the Pre-trial Detention Facility № 1, who entered into a criminal conspiracy with a prison guard and policeman, is well illustrated by a double murder he had committed.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Astrakhan Region, the native of Protochnoe settlement of the Liman district of the Astrakhan region was running illegal operations with fish and caviar products. In October 2006, Vitaly Smirnov made arrangements with two Volgograd residents to sell them sturgeon caviar for 220 thousand rubles. When the buyers arrived to Liman settlement, three local persons have met them. They decided not to give the caviar to the Volgograd residents but instead kill them and take the money. 

Vitaly Smirnov has shot dead one buyer with a hunting rifle and stabbed the other one with a knife multiple times. The criminals have transported the bodies of the victims by car to Dhalykovo State Farm located in the Lagan district of the Republic of Kalmykia and burnt there. Police managed to find and arrest the accomplices to Smirnov pretty fast, but the murderer has escaped with the money and was put on the wanted list. 

While being in the Astrakhan Pre-trial Detention Facility № 1, the convict had been performing criminal machinations jointly with familiar law enforcement officers and often enjoyed loosening of the detention regime – e.g. left the penitentiary institution to celebrate his birthday.

Former prison guard did not like the detention

Unlike Aleksey Emelyanov, Sergey Polyansky, the former Lead Investigator of the Operational Department of the Pre-trial Detention Facility № 1, did not attempt to dispute his dismissal, but he has disputed the pretrial restrictions imposed on him – detention until the court hearing. In his lawsuit, the former officer of the Administration in the Astrakhan Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service asked to release him from detention under home arrest.

Sergey Polyansky claimed that neither can he obstruct an objective examination of the criminal case or affect witnesses and victims, nor does he intent to abscond. He noted that he does not have a criminal record, lives in Astrakhan permanently, and raises two minor children. The former prison guard promised to attend upon first request by the investigation. 

However, the appeals instance of the regional court has affirmed the earlier decision to detain the suspect. Officers of the Regional Directorate of the ICR had specifically insisted to place Sergey Polyansky in detention due to the severity of the offence incriminated to the ex-guard and punishable with imprisonment for up to 10 years. 

In addition, the investigation believes that the former officer of the Administration in the Astrakhan Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service might destroy evidence and affect participants of the criminal proceedings to change their testimonies for his benefit – because all the witnesses and victims are known to him. Once released, Sergey Polyansky could enter into a criminal conspiracy with former colleagues and evade the criminal liability.

Therefore, the former prison guard, similarly with his accomplices, is waiting for the trial in the same Pre-trial Detention Facility № 1 where he used to perform criminal machinations with theatrical elements.

Apparently, the line between criminals and law enforcement officers might be sometimes very blurry. Both inmates and guards are willing to exploit the fear of a businessman, who has stumbled upon the penitentiary system for the first time and squeeze some money from him. Polyansky, Smirnov and Emelyanov have even staged a theatrical performance with a fake FSB officer. Of course, they did not expect their actions to be uncovered. Now the three suspects, most probably, would have to polish their drama skills behind bars.

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