Mobsters Torched Building Housing Rival Poker Game5 years ago
Four members of an organised crime syndicate operating illegal high-stakes poker games in Brooklyn, New York have been indicted by authorities for an arson attack on a rival gang’s underground poker den, firefighters and innocent occupants injured in the dramatic rescue operation which ensued.
Viktor Zelinger, Vyacheslav Malkeyev, Leonid Gershman and Aleksey Tsvetkov are alleged to have been running the illegal high-stakes game in the Sheepshead Bay area in May of last year when they embarked on the arson attack, according to a newly-unsealed indictment reported by the New York Post.
The indictment claims that the four named individuals, three of whom are in custody while Zelinger is still ‘at large’, planned the attack because the rival gang was ‘stealing their clients’. At the time of the deliberate torching, however, other residents were still inside the building – the blaze ‘trapping a 12-year-old boy and another resident on the upper floors’.
The NYPost reported that: ‘Dramatic video of the rescue shows a firefighter climbing a ladder to rescue the boy and another person, clad only in their underwear. Five firefighters and both residents had to be treated for smoke inhalation, and one of the smoke-eaters sustained first-degree burns to his face.’
The men charged with planning and setting the blaze refer to themselves as ‘Thieves in law’, members of a collective of criminals linked to the Russian mafia originally formed for ruling the criminal underworld within the prison camps.
In November last year nine men believed to belong to the ‘Thieves in Law’ were arrested by the FBI in a series of raids in Brooklyn, again suspected of running an illegal network of underground poker games. The buildings raided by the FBI last year in Coney Island are very close to the Sheepshead Bay area where the arson attack took place.
According to the NYPost report, ‘Gershman, Tsvetkov and Malkeyev are also charged in the 33-count indictment with pistol whipping an unnamed person they suspected of stealing drugs from the syndicate’s “stash” house, while Pocinoc, 28, is also charged with ‘beating another victim and extortion.’
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