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Defendants in Taiwanchik US organized-crime case prepare for sentencing


MOSCOW, February 11 (RAPSI, Ingrid Burke) – Nicholas Hirsch, a defendant who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a high-profile US criminal case targeting Russian-American organized crime, filed documents Tuesday appealing for leniency in his upcoming sentencing.
In an indictment unsealed by US prosecutors in April, Hirsch was charged alongside 33 co-defendants in connection with two alleged Russian-American criminal enterprises accused of having laundered tens of millions of dollars through such means as the operation of at least two international bookmaking operations.
According to the statement accompanying the indictment, the bookmaking organizations catered to extremely wealthy clients in the US, Russia, and Ukraine.
Describing the two organizations, the prosecution statement claimed: “One enterprise, the Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization, run by VADIM TRINCHER, is alleged to have laundered tens of millions of dollars from Russia and the Ukraine through Cyprus and into the U.S. The other enterprise, the Nahmad-Trincher Organization, run by ILLYA TRINCHER, the son of VADIM TRINCHER, is alleged to have been financed by, among other entities, a prestigious art gallery in New York City.”
The statement noted that Hirsch faced 20 years in prison along with three years of supervised release, as well as a fine of either $500,000 or twice the amount of money gained from the alleged crimes, or twice of that lost by the victims on a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Hirsch pleaded guilty to the single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in October.
Hirsch’s sentencing memo pleaded with the court to consider him as a whole, not merely for the conduct that led to the present charges.
His defense team pleads: “Nicholas Hirsch accepts full responsibility for his conduct and now comes before this Court to accept the consequences of his actions. He understands that the path that brings him before Your Honor was forged of his own free will and poor decision. He is truly sorry for his actions.”
The memo went on to emphasize the upstanding life he left behind: “He has compromised a promising career in the financial services industry, built through a decade of hard work, and tarnished an otherwise impeccable reputation. He has disappointed family and friends. For this, he blames no one but himself.”
According to the memo, the plea agreement stipulated a $25,000 forfeiture and a sentencing guideline ranging from four to ten months of custodial service, further providing that the defense team could argue for a below-the-range sentence.
Hirsch’s memo urges the court: “Nicholas respectfully submits that a below-the-range sentence and $25,000 forfeiture is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the [relevant] statutory directives.”
Hirsch’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 25.
Another defendant in the case, Dmitry Druzhinsky, had been scheduled for sentencing Tuesday, but his sentencing hearing has been adjourned until March 31. Druzhinsky was charged with money laundering conspiracy, operating an illegal gambling business, and unlawful internet gambling. The statement accompanying the indictment’s unveiling stipulated that he faced 30 years in prison, nine years of supervised release, and a fine of one million dollars or either twice the profit gained from the alleged crimes, or twice the amount lost by victims.
The statement boasted that among the defendants was Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, aka Taiwanchik, who gained international fame after having been separately indicted on allegations of having engaged in official bribery during the 2002 Winter Olympics, which were hosted by Salt Lake City in the American state of Utah.
The statement claims that Tokhtakhounov "used his status... to resolve disputes with clients of the high-stakes illegal gambling operation with implicit and sometimes explicit threats of violence and economic harm," adding that he received $10 million for his service during a single two-month period.
Tokhtakhounov faces up to 90 years in prison if convicted of the charges presently pending against him as part of this indictment, which include substantive and conspiracy charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), conspiracy charges relating to money laundering and extortion, and charges of operating an illegal gambling business and of unlawful internet gambling.