Career criminals given long prison terms in plea bargain

Defendents Abayev and Petrokov were arrested in 2010 for series of robberies and kidnapping businesswoman, housekeeper.

311_gavel (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced two men to 10- and 12-year sentences for their part in a series of robberies and abductions that took place in Jerusalem and Petah Tikva in 2010.
The defendants, Robert Abayev and Nati Petrokov, signed a plea bargain with the State Attorney’s Office, pleading guilty to a long list of charges in exchange for lenient sentencing.
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The men, career criminals, confessed to their involvement in two crimes, one, the robbery of a money-changing kiosk in Petah Tikva and the second, the kidnapping of a Jerusalem businesswoman and her housekeeper.
In the first incident, which took place last February, the defendants abducted a money exchange employee from her home in Petah Tikva, gagged and beat her, shocked her with an electric taser, threatened her family and put a gun to her head, all in an effort to convince her to cooperate with the planned robbery.
Under duress, the employee opened the kiosk, disabled the alarm and opened the safe, from which the defendants stole roughly NIS 1 million in cash.
For this crime the defendants were convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime, kidnapping, robbery and uttering threats.
In the second incident, which took place in April, the defendants, disguised as delivery men, entered a Jerusalem businesswoman’s apartment while she was home with her housekeeper, and rounded up valuables before forcing the women into a car, at gunpoint, and driving them to an apartment in Petah Tikva.
The defendants kept the women in the apartment for three days, using the businesswoman’s credit card to withdraw cash and forcing her to send a fax to her accountant in Luxembourg, instructing him to pay $3.5 million as ransom for her release.
For the second crime the defendants were convicted of conspiring to commit a crime, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, false imprisonment, theft and credit card fraud.
In presenting the plea agreement to the court, the state attorney said that the proposed sentences were adequate and that agreeing to the deal would save the court from having to hear more than 80 witnesses.
The state also said that money found in the defendants possession would go towards compensating the victims and that the victims themselves had consented to the deal.
The prosecuting lawyer added that the defendants were not the masterminds behind the crimes, rather henchmen following orders and that the men had cooperated with investigators, providing the police with names of other accomplices.
Abayev was sentenced to 12 years in prison and 48 months’ probation and forced to pay the victims NIS 10,000 each in compensation. Petrokov was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a similar probation period, and was also forced to compensate the victims.
The difference in sentencing between the two was explained by the two men’s different criminal histories and Petrokov’s closer cooperation with the police.
In her ruling, Justice Yehudit Amsterdam noted the severity of the crimes and the greed that motivated them. She referred to the men as repeat offenders, “who deserve severe punishments, both in order to punish them in a manner appropriate to their crimes and to protect society from their injury for a long time.
“The proposed sentences are seemingly extensive, but in light of the severity of the crimes, it is fair to say that the agreed-upon punishment is even relatively lenient,” wrote the judge.
“However, despite the above, there are justifications for accepting the plea bargain, the main reasons being that the defendants were the ‘muscle’ operated by the principal criminals who initiated and planned the offences, that they cooperated with the police, made full confessions and provided evidence with which to charge the high-ranking criminals.”
Amsterdam said that such a deal might encourage other criminals to cooperate with law enforcement efforts to apprehend those at the top of the criminal pyramid.