US Sentences Eastern European Crime Syndicate Boss To Over 16 Years - Justice Dept.

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 04th December, 2019) A leading member of an Eastern European crime syndicate based in New York city was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for racketeering that included illegal gambling, loan sharking, extortion and arson, the Justice Department announced in a press release.

"[Leonid] Gershman is a violent racketeer deservedly punished today for the harm he has inflicted through beatings, extortions, loansharking and, most seriously, an arson that displaced families from their homes and endangered the lives of children and New York City firefighters," United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Richard Donoghue said in the release on Tuesday.

Gershman and co-defendant Aleksey Tsvetkov were convicted following a three-week jury trial in August 2018 and Gershman was sentenced to 198 months in prison by US District Judge Brian Cogan, the release said. Tsvekov is awaiting sentencing.

Between 2011 and May 2017, Gershman and his co-conspirators, born in states of the former Soviet Union, including Russia, Ukraine and Moldova, operated as a racketeering syndicate, according to the release.

Gershman's syndicate was blamed for setting fire to a mixed-use building that housed a rival high-stakes poker game in 2016, in which firefighters and two residents, including a young boy, were injured while being rescued, the release said.

The syndicate members were linked to high-level members of Russian organized crime, who authorized syndicate members to use violence to protect their criminal activities, the release added.