Swiping Irina Malezhik and Viktor Alekseyev’s identities wasn’t enough.
Dimitry and Julia Yakovlev had to take their lives as well, federal prosecutors announced last week when they filed murder and fraud charges against the Sea Gate couple.
Prosecutors allege that Dimitry Yakovlev killed two of the three people he and his wife stole the identities of between 2003 and 2005 before exploiting their victims’ bank accounts and credit cards.
The arrests ends the mystery behind the 2007 disappearance of Malezhik, a Russian translator and Alekseyev, a former business partner of Yakovlev, whose remains were found in New Jersey back in January 2006.
Things aren’t looking too good for the Yakovlevs’ third alleged victim. Michael Klein, a former Sea Gate resident who hasn’t been seen since November 2003, shortly before the couple purchased the property from him, according to published reports.
“Identity theft victims usually lose their money,” NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelley said as United States Attorney Benton J. Campbell unsealed the indictments Thursday. “In this case [the identity victims] allegedly lost their lives too. That’s why this investigation and prosecution takes on special meaning for all those involved in bringing this to a successful conclusion.”
“This indictment makes clear that law enforcement will not rest until those who would victimize members of our community are brought to justice,” added Campbell.
Police said that Malezhik was last seen leaving her apartment building in Brighton Beach.
The Yakovlevs were implicated in her disappearance a few months later after they cashed over $6,500 in checks from the missing woman’s account, officials alleged.
The couple was arrested last spring, charged with stealing the woman’s identity.
Believing that Malezhik was the victim of foul play, FBI investigators converged on the gated community last August, searching the couple’s Manhattan Avenue home for her remains.
Investigators reportedly tore up the back yard and basement, but turned up nothing, although it became clearer and clearer that people tend to disappear or die around the couple, especially after they gave them large sums of money.
While Dimitry Yakovlev has been implicated in Malezhi’s murder, the woman’s body has never been found, officials said.
In interviews, Yakovlev shrugged off the identity theft charges, claiming that his using of Malezhi’s and Malezhik’s credit cards were repayments of loans he had given them before they disappeared.
Yakovlev met Malezhik when she acted as a translator on a court case he was implicated in. He also claimed she had tutored him in English, according to published reports.
If convicted, Yakovlev could face 20 years for the deaths of Malezhik and Alekseyev and an additional 30 years for each of the remaining 15 fraud counts.
Julia Yakovlev has only been indicted on the fraud counts, officials said.