Wednesday, April 24, 2019

the last book I ever read (The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew G. McCabe, excerpt three)

from The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew G. McCabe:

The fingerprints of the vory were turning up in America with growing frequency. We chased leads on Russian gangsters sent to New York to “organize” the rackets in the city. We followed leads about young Russian players in the National Hockey League who were being extorted by gangsters back in the homeland. One of the kingpins we were tracking, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, concocted a scheme to guarantee a gold medal for the Russian pairs figure skaters in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The fix worked. The Russians were awarded the medal, but after the ensuing scandal about the judging, the members of the second-place team were awarded duplicate gold medals, too.

Vadim Thomas, one of the best investigators on our squad, pitched the figure-skating case to the Southern District of New York—known as the Sovereign District of New York, because the U.S. attorney’s office there has a lot of power and does not shy from using it creatively. Tokhtakhounov was indicted and arrested by Italian police on charges of conspiracy to rig the competition. For months the FBI worked with the Italians and with Interpol to get him extradited. Before long, word came to the squad that a Russian oligarch had pledged two hundred million dollars to get Tokhtakhounov out of jail. Next thing we knew, his release was ordered by the Italian Supreme Court. He was gone, in the wind, back to Russia, where he has been living openly. (And from there, he allegedly continued to run criminal enterprises in the United States. In 2013, Tokhtakhounov was indicted for money laundering in connection with an illegal gambling ring that operated out of Trump Tower. Several months after this indictment, Tokhtakhounov was a VIP guest at Donald Trump’s Miss Universe contest in Moscow.) We’ve never had a chance to get him again. In the scheme of things, the evident corruption behind a figure-skating medal may seem trivial. But for me and for a lot of guys on our squad, this was a critical turn of events.

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