An Israeli mob figure who has a violent criminal history pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to spearheading a Las Vegas extortion scheme.
Moshe Barmuha, 39, an Israeli citizen who lives in Southern California, entered a guilty plea with the help of a Hebrew interpreter to one count of extortion and one count of interstate travel in aid of racketeering. Together, the charges draw a maximum of 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
Barmuha, who prosecutors say is “known to be affiliated with a very powerful organized crime family,” was the last of five defendants charged in the extortion scheme to plead guilty. His right arm was amputated below the elbow after a pipe bomb he planted under a rival’s car in Israel prematurely exploded.
Chief U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt set his sentencing for Aug. 26.
Outside the courtroom Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Frayn, would not comment on whether the case is over.
One of the five defendants, Ruslan Magomedgadzhiev, 30, pleaded guilty before Hunt on March 9 during a closed proceeding. His agreement with prosecutors was sealed, and sources said he cooperated with authorities.
Magomedgadzhiev’s younger brother, Murad, 27, pleaded guilty earlier Friday to the racketeering charge, which could earn him up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is to be sentenced on Aug. 12. The Russian-born brothers live in Southern California.
The other two defendants, Yakov Cohen of Las Vegas and Lior Zaken of Southern California, pleaded guilty in March.
All five men were charged in a six-count indictment in Las Vegas last year with attempting to extort thousands of dollars from two Israeli-born businessmen, Moshe “Moshiko” Ozana and Moshe “Chiko” Karmi, who run small electronics and cosmetics kiosks at outlet malls.
Las Vegas police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents uncovered the extortion scheme, which brought to light the Israeli mob’s stepped-up presence in Nevada.
Cohen, 24, an Israeli citizen, pleaded guilty to extortion and interstate travel in aid of racketeering. He faces a July 15 sentencing.
Court-approved wiretaps in the investigation revealed Cohen threatening violence against the kiosk owners and bragging about his ties to the Israeli mob.
Prosecutors alleged Cohen was trying to muscle in on the operations of Ozana and Karmi.
Barmuha’s plea agreement describes his leading role in the scheme, which included threatening Karmi on Cohen’s behalf.
Zaken, 38, pleaded guilty to the racketeering charge and is to be sentenced on July 8. Prosecutors alleged that Zaken helped Barmuha recruit the Magomedgadzhiev brothers to rough up Karmi.
On Jan. 8, 2010, according to the plea agreement, the Russian brothers assaulted Karmi outside his apartment. Karmi pulled a handgun and shot Ruslan Magomedgadzhiev twice as the brothers were fleeing.
Magomedgadzhiev waited to receive treatment for his wounds at a Los Angeles hospital.
Contact Jeff German at email@example.com or 702-380-8135.