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Serving sentence in two countries: how the life of the leader of the largest 'Russian' gang in America developed

The leader of the largest "Russian" gang in America moved to an Israeli prison, reports with the BBC

Photo: Shutterstock

The former leader of the largest “Russian” gang that the American police and the FBI managed to defeat in this century, 54-year-old Gidon Abramov, last week was sent to serve his term from an American prison to an Israeli one.

The epithet “Russian” is a simplification that is common for Americans: the gang, which committed several high-profile robberies in 2002-2004, included natives of various former republics of the USSR.

Gidon Abramov himself was born in Baku. He was sentenced in 2008 to a 25-year term for a whole bunch of crimes, served 17 years in the United States since his arrest, and is now sent to serve the rest of the term in Israel, of which he is a citizen.

Abramov was involved in the case of a brigade with several names. At first, the FBI called it “The Abramov-Drubetsky Brigade” in honor of Gidon and his accomplice Artur Drubetskoy, nicknamed Bald. Then it shortened the name of this group to “The Abramov Brigade”, and a little later renamed it “The Brigade from the“ Passage ”after the name of the Russian restaurant in Brooklyn chosen by the gang.

According to the FBI, at that time it was the largest "Russian" brigade defeated in the United States.

Initially, 19 people were involved in her case, and as they split up and began to lay accomplices (or, as they say in the United States, became “cooperators” because they cooperated with the investigation), their number continued to grow until it reached about 25 defendants ...

The brigade has set a record for the number of cooperators.

Abramov joined this cooperative movement almost on the day of his arrest, or, as the famous Brooklyn thug Monya Elson puts it, "still in the elevator." Abramov was arrested on November 4, 2004, immediately attached to a digital recording device and sent to record a conversation with Drubetsky.

On the very first meetings with the investigators, Abramov told them about such a number of crimes that it is pointless to list them all. Let's recall the most iconic ones.

He first got into the newspaper in 1991, when the New York Post announced the arrest of a group of Soviet emigrants, including Abramov, then 25 years old. The arrest was the fruit of a month-long investigation that culminated in a search of an apartment in Brooklyn, where firearms, cartridges, a homemade bomb and a hand grenade were seized.

Abramov served about ten years and soon after his release took up the old as part of the brigade, which later was honored with his name. Her most notorious crime was the broad day robbery of Michael Ashton Fine Jewelry on fashionable Madison Avenue in New York.

On the subject: Ten Ways to Protect Yourself from Scammers

It was also an extremely rare “Russian” crime, as people from the CIS, as a rule, rob their own, not native shops.

Finally, although the hijackers stole a million dollars worth of jewelry, the robbery was extremely mediocre.

The robbers, who broke into the store at about 11:30 am on July 16, 2004, spoke to the saleswomen in English with a Russian accent, and among themselves - clearly in Russian. Therefore, the authorities immediately began looking for the raiders in the Russian community. The task was made easier by the fact that she was teeming with informants.

The drops of fresh blood left by one of the robbers on the floor after he smashed a shop window with his hand also helped. They were checked against an all-American database and found that the DNA belonged to Abramov, from whom genetic material was taken from him after previous arrests.

Surveillance spotted him in Brooklyn driving a Honda Accord, which was fined twice near a jewelry store before being robbed.

Finally, the robbers went to work without masks.

One of Abramov's crimes ended in disgraceful failure, because the owner of the Tatiana restaurant, Tatiana Varzar, flatly refused to give him the valuables, although he beat her on the head and legs with the handle of a pistol, with which she fought off him, leaning back in her open car.

“Then my legs were like ink,” she recalled.

On February 26, 2004, he attacked a fragile pretty woman in a garage on the Brighton Beach waterfront next to her restaurant. It was 2 pm on Saturday.

This time Abramov went to work in a mask, although Tatyana fleetingly saw his face when her heel pushed the mask to the side.

“He thought he would stun me,” said the victim. “But I didn’t fall unconscious, I continued to flounder, kick off with my feet…” According to Tatiana, she thought that the attacker's pistol was not real.

She never gave Abramov the ring and watch, which he was trying to take away. He smashed her head and left.

“It’s happiness that such a ruthless person will be imprisoned,” Tatiana said after Abramov pleaded guilty. - I can only say one thing: well, it's not worth it! Well, well, he stole it, he will never use it anyway, it turns out. To spend my whole life in prison ... "

In fact, not all. According to the calculations of the federal prison department, the estimated date for the release of Abramov, if he remained in the United States, is August 15, 2026. He would have been credited with years in the bullpen. In addition, the term in the United States is reduced by about 15% for exemplary behavior. On March 6 last year, Abramov thus reduced his term by 810 days.

In May, Israel sent a letter to the US Department of Justice stating that Abramov's term, under certain conditions, could be reduced there as well. In both cases, he has a good chance to be released alive.

Another crime Abramov: he with three accomplices broke into the house of the owner of the bookstore "St. Petersburg" Natalia Orlova. The bandits pointed a pistol at her son, who was then 3,5 years old.

“Every time I remember his face when he says, 'Are you a ninja, uncle?' - said Orlova.

“A month later, he says to me,” she continued, “You know, they were not ninjas, they were ordinary bandits!” The nanny probably explained to him. This strange hostage effect worked for him: he started talking to them. He says to him: “If you are a ninja, then why are you here ?! Go kill Babu Yaga! ”.

The hijackers took a small safe with them.

The biggest loot went to the brigade not in the jewelry store on Madison Avenue, but in the apartment of the antiquarian, former Kiev resident Dmitry Markov in Brooklyn. He lived on the top floor of a six-story building, and the bandits came down to his balcony on a rope from the roof. The door to the balcony was open due to the heat, Markov turned off the alarm.

Photo: Shutterstock

The landlord and his girlfriend watched the film “How It Was Done in Odessa” before going to bed and peacefully went to rest, when suddenly at 4 am a noise was heard on the balcony. Markov with a wild cry flew out of bed and met the intruders, who hit him with a pistol and cut his lip and forehead.

The landlord and his guest were tied up and put on the bed.

“Hands back, it is impossible to move, that is, you feel like a ram to be slaughtered,” Markov later described his feelings to me.

Trophies - coins, icons, sabers, etc. - were taken out for two hours. The container they brought with them was not enough, and the raiders borrowed the master's one. Markov said that the goods stolen from him weighed 200 kilograms and was officially estimated at about one and a half million dollars, although in fact, according to him, it cost much more.

All this was not insured, and the damage caused to him was irreparable.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

The assistance provided by Abramov to the investigation did not shorten his term in the least. When the defense raised this issue before the sentencing, the judge indifferently explained that he began to cooperate with the investigation without signing a standard cooperation agreement with the prosecutor's office beforehand.

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