PAIR GET DEATH PENALTY IN RUSSIAN ABDUCTIONS.Byline: Staff and Wire Services
A federal jury on Tuesday ordered that two men be put to death for abducting ab·duct
tr.v. ab·duct·ed, ab·duct·ing, ab·ducts
1. To carry off by force; kidnap.
2. Physiology To draw away from the midline of the body or from an adjacent part or limb. and killing five Russian emigres, including four from the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. , before dumping them into a cold mountain reservoir.
The jury deliberated less than two hours before deciding that Iouri Mikhel and Jurijus Kadamovas, both of the former Soviet Union, should die. It marked the first death sentence to be issued from a federal court in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. in more than 50 years.
Last month, the jury convicted both men of three counts of hostage-taking resulting in death and three counts of conspiracy. The entire trial, including sentencing, lasted seven months and a day.
"They got what they deserved," said Ruven Umansky, whose son Alexander, of Sherman Oaks, was among those killed. "It's a relief."
As the death verdicts were read, the families of the victims clasped their hands and cried.
Mikhel, 41, of Encino shook his head and smirked at the jury. Kadamovas, 40, of Sherman Oaks showed no reaction as an interpreter translated the verdict for him.
Prosecutors said both men were ringleaders of a group that sought to amass a fortune by kidnapping affluent Russian immigrants from Los Angeles in late 2001 and early 2002 and extorting money from their families and friends.
They collected more than $1.2 million in ransom after promising family members their loved ones loved ones npl → seres mpl queridos
loved ones npl → proches mpl et amis chers
loved ones love npl would go free.
The bodies were tied with weights and thrown from a bridge 187 feet into the frigid New Melones Reservoir New Melones Reservoir is a reservoir on the Stanislaus River in the California Central Valley, about 60 miles upstream from the river's confluence with the San Joaquin River and forming part of the border between Calaveras County and Tuolumne County. near Yosemite National Park Yosemite National Park (yōsĕm`ĭtē), 761,266 acres (308,205 hectares), E central Calif.; est. 1890 as a result of the efforts of conservationist John Muir. Located in the Sierra Nevada, it is a glacier-scoured area of great beauty; Mt. .
Prosecutors said the two men showed "unmitigated un·mit·i·gat·ed
1. Not diminished or moderated in intensity or severity; unrelieved: unmitigated suffering.
2. greed and almost boundless viciousness" in a quest to get the trappings of wealth, including expensive homes and luxury cars.
"The swiftness of the verdict and the outcome speak volumes of the degree these defendants deserved this verdict," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale, who prosecuted the case. "You try to imagine how someone could strap a weight to those bodies and toss them off that bridge, and it shows the viciousness of these men."
Rules in the federal justice system require U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian Dickran M. Tevrizian, Jr. (born 1940 in Los Angeles, California) was a United States federal judge for the Central District of California. Confirmed in 1985, he is noteworthy for being the first United States federal judge of Armenian ancestry. to follow the jury's verdict when he officially imposes the two men's sentences March 12, Dugdale said.
Dale Rubin, an attorney for Mikhel, disagreed, saying he will file motions asking that the judge reject the verdict. He called the jury's decision "a revenge verdict."
"It unfortunately took the judge almost as long to read the verdict as jurors took to reach the verdict," he said. "They lost sight of what their job was."
Nancy Shapiro, whose husband, Sherman Oaks developer Meyer Muscatel mus·ca·tel
1. A rich sweet wine made from muscat grapes.
2. A muscat grape or raisin.
[Middle English muscadelle, partly from Medieval Latin , was the first to be killed, said she felt "just like we finally got some justice."
Her husband was abducted abducted Distal angulation of an extremity away from the midline of the body in a transverse plane and away from a sagittal plane passing through the proximal aspect of the foot or part, or away from some other specified reference point in October 2001 and his body was found floating in the reservoir. He was not identified until months later.
During the two-week penalty phase of the trial, the jury heard from the victims' relatives.
"I prayed that he would come home," Muscatel's daughter, Rachel Hoisman, told the jurors tearfully. "And the way he came home was in a box."
The bodies of the other four victims -- three men and one woman killed by early 2002 -- were pulled from the bottom of the deep body of water by law enforcement divers.
Those killed were Muscatel, 58, a philanthropist; Russian banking mogul George Safiev, 37, of Beverly Hills; Safiev's accountant, Rita Pekler, 39, of Encino; Safiev's business partner, Nick Kharabadze, 29, of Woodland Hills; and Umansky, 35, owner of a Sherman Oaks car-stereo store.
If not for their arrests in February 2002, the group would have continued its plot and planned to scout out other victims in Florida, New York Florida is the name of some places in the U.S. state of New York:
Prosecutors said Kadamovas told one of the henchmen that he hoped they would collect as much as $50 million and discard enough bodies until they "were stacked on top of each other" in the reservoir.
DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
or deoxyribonucleic acid
One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes. belonging to two victims was collected from handcuffs hand·cuff
A restraining device consisting of a pair of strong, connected hoops that can be tightened and locked about the wrists and used on one or both arms of a prisoner in custody; a manacle. Often used in the plural.
tr.v. found at Mikhel's home, authorities said. A pair of shoes was later matched to a bloody footprint found at the crime scene, and a recorder used to tape one of the victim's voices turned up at Kadamovas' house.
During the trial, defense attorneys had argued that the accomplices who cut deals with prosecutors for lesser prison sentences were the group's leaders.
Lawyers for Mikhel, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, and Kadamovas, a Lithuanian, argued unsuccessfully that their clients should have received life in prison rather than death. They said the two were affected by having grown up under a communist government, contending that they learned they had to be criminals to survive.
In addition to the conspiracy and hostage-taking charges, they were convicted of money-laundering conspiracy and conspiring to escape from the Metropolitan Detention Center "Metropolitan Dentention Center" refers to a series of federal detention facilities (prisons) located throughout the United States.
They are run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. while awaiting trial.
Three accomplices pleaded guilty in the case, including Kadamovas' girlfriend, Natalya Solovyeva; and Ainar Altmanis, a Latvian who helped lead authorities to the site where the bodies were dumped.
Another defendant, Petro Krylov, is set to be tried next month. If convicted, he could also receive a death sentence.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.