Russian national in US pleads guilty to bribery, visa fraud

NEW BERN, N.C. (AP) — A Russian national living in North Carolina who had been accused by authorities of involvement in a $150 million kickback scheme while working for a Russian military contractor has pleaded guilty to unrelated charges including bribery and visa fraud.

Leonid Teyf, 59, of Raleigh, pleaded guilty Friday to bribery of a public official, visa fraud, and false statements on a tax return. His ex-wife, Tatiana, 43, pleaded guilty to making a false statement in an immigration matter.

Both agreed to forfeit nearly $6 million in assets.

Teyf pleaded guilty to offering a $10,000 bribe to an employee of the Department of Homeland Security in 2018 to cause the deportation of a man who he thought was having an affair with Tatiana. He also pleaded guilty to making a false claim on a visa application in 2018 and falsely denying overseas financial interests on his 2012 tax return.

Prosecutors had said Teyf and his wife lived in luxury in a gated golf-course community until he was indicted in December 2018. Teyf and his wife had luxury cars, expensive artwork and a 17,000-square foot (1,600-square-meter) house tended by housekeepers, according to court documents.

Prosecutors also had said Teyf used his position as an executive with a Russian military supplier between 2010 and 2012 to extract kickbacks from subcontractors seeking to do business with Russia’s armed forces.

Teyf thwarted a Russian government probe into the kickback scheme by bribing the investigators, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors had alleged that Teyf and his ex-wife, along with others, opened several financial accounts at four U.S. financial institutions that received almost $40 million from the alleged money laundering scheme.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop all other charges against Teyf alleged in a 50-count indictment, including money laundering charges related to the alleged kickback scheme, and harboring illegal aliens and attempting to arrange the murder of the man whom he suspected of having an affair with his wife.

Prosecutors also agreed to seek a prison term of just five years. Teyf faces deportation after serving his prison sentence.

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This story was first published on March 19, 2021. It was updated on March 20, 2021 to correct that Leonid Teyf did not plead guilty in a Russian kickback scheme. While Teyf had been accused by prosecutors of involvement in a kickback scheme, he pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of bribery of a public official, visa fraud, and false statements on a tax return.

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