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Russian national accused of federal crimes in Raleigh will remain in jail, judge rules

A judge's gavel. (Dreamstime/TNS)

A federal district court judge ordered Tuesday that a Russian national who has lived in Raleigh for about a decade remain in jail on charges that include money laundering, bribing a public official and planning a murder for hire.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Numbers II granted federal prosecutors’ request that Leonid Teyf remain in jail. During a hearing Tuesday, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations testified about Teyf’s volatile relationship with his ex-wife, a plot to have his ex-wife’s lover killed and numerous guns found at a condominium in the Glenwood South neighborhood of downtown Raleigh.

FBI agent Dennis Kinney also said Teyf, 57, planned to return to Russia with his ex-wife and children on Dec. 15

Prior, Teyf had sought to find his ex-wife’s lover, a son of the Teyfs’ former housekeeper who had gone into hiding. Teyf wanted the man to be forced to confess about the relationship and then killed after the Christmas holiday – long after the family had left the country, Kinney testified.

When the Teyfs arrived in Russia, Teyf planned to have his wife arrested immediately, Kinney testified, but didn’t specify on what charges.

Prior to the hearing, Numbers granted Taytyana Tefy, 41, pre-trial release under conditions that include surrendering her passport, reporting to federal probation officials.

Leonid Teyf has been in custody at the Wake County jail since Dec. 5, when FBI agents raided his North Raleigh home, valued at nearly $5 million, on New Market Way.

He has been charged with several federal crimes, including money laundering, murder for hire, bribery of a public official, aiding and abetting others by possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number, bringing in and harboring undocumented residents, immigration conspiracy and visa fraud.

Charlotte attorney James B. McLoughlin Jr. argued in court documents that Teyf, a native of the Soviet Union who is now a legal U.S. resident, is not guilty of the charges. He said the indictments contained inconsistencies and questionable legal theories.

“The money laundering charges against Mr. Teyf are premised on, what is at best, a decidedly non- intuitive notion of theft,” argued McLoughlin, who wasn’t in court Tuesday morning. “To wit: That an agreement between a government contractor and a subcontractor to receive a portion of the subcontractor’s payment, for work that introduced by the former to the latter, constitutes theft of government funds.”

Federal court documents indicate that the Teyfs are still married, but Wake County District Court documents indicate they separated in 2015 and divorced in 2017. Testimony on Tuesday indicated that the couple lived together in a mansion in North Raleigh.

McLoughlin filed a 13-page brief this week arguing that Teyf isn’t a flight risk and plans to stay in the country and fight the charges.

Earlier this month, prosecutors charged an Apex man, John Patrick Cotter, with attempted bribery after they say he gave a Department of Homeland Security agent $10,000 in exchange for a promise that a man suspected of having an affair with Tatyana Teyf would be deported to Russia, according to court records.

Leonid Teyf believed that his wife had an affair with the man, who is the son of the family’s former housekeeper, court documents show.

According to court records from Cotter’s arrest, Teyf told a “confidential” source starting in February that he wanted to pay someone to get his former housekeeper’s son to admit to an alleged affair with Tatyana Teyf and then kill him, according to the FBI. The plan eventually evolved into one that involved getting the son sent back to Russia, where he would likely be killed.

In March, the FBI found the son, identified only by initials in court documents, in Cleveland, Ohio. Agents “offered protection and sought his cooperation,” but the man declined, records show.

McLoughlin said the murder-for-hire charge against Teyf “is devoid of any suggestion that Mr. Teyf personally participated in any violent or threatening behavior.”

McLoughlin said the murder-for-hire charge against Teyf “is devoid of any suggestion that Mr. Teyf personally participated in any violent or threatening behavior.”


© 2018 The Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.