Friday, February 11, 2005

Violent crimes in the Bukharian Jewish community


At 2:01 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Forest Hills Man Convicted In Shooting Faces 25-Year Sentence

by Kim Brown, Central and Mid Queens Editor February 10, 2005

A Forest Hills man was convicted of attempted murder last Tuesday for the 2003 shooting of a businessman in Rego Park. Simon Samandarov faces up to 25 years in prison.

A jury of six women and six men deliberated for about three hours before finding Samandarov, 30, guilty of attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degree.

“The defendant has been tried by a jury of his peers and convicted of a violent crime committed with an illegal handgun,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “A long prison sentence is warranted.”

On the first day of the trial, the victim, Alik Pinhasov, took the witness stand. He told the story of a late-night argument with his cousin and two other men that ended with Samandarov shooting him in the back and groin. Pinhasov, 32, spoke in Russian and his testimony was translated by an interpreter.

The men are part of the tight-knit Bukharian Jewish community in Forest Hills and Rego Park. There are approximately 50,000 Bukharians in Queens, primarily from the former Soviet Union.

During the night of the shooting, December 17, 2003, the four men drank a bottle of vodka and a bottle of cognac in an Uzbek kosher restaurant, Pinhasov recounted. They then got into a car to buy cigarettes.

Soon after leaving the restaurant an argument broke out, Pinhasov said, and he was thrown to the street. Samandarov shot him twice in the back and buttocks when he attempted to run away.

Another one of the men who was in the car, Edward Davydov, 39, was also charged in the case and plead guilty to assault in the third degree. He was sentenced to three years’ probation.

During the trial, Police Office Brian Benedict, who was first to arrive at the crime scene, said that he saw Pinhasov being pulled toward the car by the other men at 99th Street and 64th Road. “He was on his hands and knees and they were dragging him,” Benedict said.

The weapon, a .22-caliber Smith and Wesson gun, was shown to the jury. The serial number on the gun had been filed away.

Throughout the trial, Samandarov, who was wearing jeans and a blazer, chewed gum and looked toward those giving testimony with little emotion. Sentencing will take place at the end of the month.

Other than Justice Richard Buchter, Assistant District Attorney Catherine Kane, who prosecuted the case, defense attorney John Russo and the jury, the courtroom was mostly empty. Russo did not return a call seeking comment about the case.

The incident has been linked to the midtown Manhattan murder of Pinhasov’s cousin, Eduard Nektalov, 46, the former president of the Bukharian Jewish Congress. Nektalov was shot three times at close range last May, just a few blocks from his family-owned jewelry store.

According to several news reports, Nektalov received a mysterious phone call shortly before he was murdered. The caller demanded he intervene and persuade Pinhasov to drop the charges against Samandarov. Nektalov reportedly rebuffed the request, saying he did not have that kind of influence over his cousin.

Last year, Nektalov’s murder made front-page news because it happened on a busy Manhattan street and because Nektalov had previously been indicted on money laundering charges.

Nektalov and his father, Roman, also of Forest Hills, were among 11 gold suppliers arrested in 2003 as part of the Justice Department’s “Operation Meltdown.”

Both father and son pleaded not guilty to smuggling charges. Eduard Nektalov was murdered before he stood trial. His funeral last year in Forest Hills was attended by more than 3,000 mourners.


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