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AGRON, Evsei

 (? — 1 985): Self-proclaimed "godfather" of the
Russian Mafia
He was a dreamer, or at least a perverted dreamer.
Evsei Agron emerged on the list of suspects as part of
what was then an alleged "Russian Mafia" operating
in the United States. By the early 1980s Agron was
acting big-time in the rackets in the Russian-Jewish
section of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, New York, as
well as in other localities around the country with a
similar populace. In Organized Crime in America,
professors Dennis J. Kenney and James O. Fincke-
nauer quote an account by an independent journalist
declaring Argon "made his reputation through sev-
eral years spent in Soviet jails, and claimed to be an
experienced killer. . . . [According to one source],
Agron was supposedly one of the top people. When
he came to this country he must have picked up with
some of his old cronies." The independent journalist
went on: "Like most real-life mobsters, Agron was a
low-life thug. . . . He kept an electric cattle-prod in
his car, and specialized in extortion and black-
mail. ... In his prime, he opened up the gasoline
racket that would net millions, possibly billions of
dollars for the Russians. He made contacts with emi-
gre criminals in Europe."
While many crime experts doubt that the Russian
Mafia exists as an organized crime group, there is no
doubt that Agron was dreaming big. It was to be an
impossible dream. His biggest idea, of course, was
the gasoline racket, or more accurately the fuel tax
fraud. The lucrative gimmick amounted to an esti-
mated tax loss of more than $1 billion annually, and
it cost New Jersey alone about $40 million a year.
The plan was simplicity itself. Diesel fuel is taxable
as a motor fuel, while home heating oil is not taxed,
although it is basically the same product. As a result
Agron was selling what was essentially a legal prod-
uct in an illegal market. Agron had hit on a gold
mine, but the dodge invited competition. Pretty soon
members of the Gambino crime family were in as
partners. The mob had the muscle to control the "no
brand" distribution and retail markets. Soon other
mafiosi declared in, and Agron had other woes. A
group labeled by federal prosecutors as the "Gold-
berg crime group" under one Boris Goldberg
attempted to branch out in a number of illegitimate
areas. (The government referred to the outfit as a
"crime group," not regarding it as a major organized
criminal organization.) In 1991 the government used
the RICO statute to name Goldberg as the head of a
racketeering enterprise, engaging in drug trafficking,
armed robbery, extortion, illegal deals with weapons
and attempted murder. There was also a conspiracy
charge that the Goldberg group had discussed killing
Agron. They tailed him for close to a year, and in
January 1984 Agron was shot but did not die. Eight
years later Goldberg pleaded guilty to a number of
charges including the attempt on Agron's life, but he
apparently was not involved in a later hit that sealed
Agron's fate. In May 1985 Agron was shot dead by
two hit men posing as joggers.
Thus ended Evsei Agron's dream of establishing a
grand crime empire. His murder has not been solved.
Some believe one of his lieutenants murdered him
but others suspect one of any of the five Mafia fami-
lies looking to eliminate him from any share of the
great fraud he had originated.