NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCN) — A Russian man and his wife who were living in Raleigh pled guilty in a case that includes bribing an official, millions of seized dollars, visa fraud, and false statements on a tax return.
The allegations, which initially included a murder-for-hire charge, first came to light back in 2018.
The couple at the center of it, Leonid Teyf and his now ex-wife Tatyana pleaded guilty in federal court in New Bern as part of an agreement Friday, according to a news release from the office of G. Norman Acker III, acting United States Attorney of the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Leonid Teyf, 59, pleaded guilty to bribery of a public official, visa fraud, and false statements on a tax return. Tatiana Teyf, 43, pleaded guilty to a false statement in an immigration matter. The couple also agreed to forfeit seized assets of nearly $6 million.
Leonid Teyf was accused of trying to bribe a Department of Homeland Security agent to deport their former housekeeper’s son, who he believed was having an affair with his wife.
The FBI raided the Teyfs’ mansion in North Raleigh back in December 2018. Court documents show agents also found guns and cash at a condo they owned on Glenwood Avenue.
Leonid, his former wife, and four others faced federal charges. Those four others have since pleaded guilty to some or all of their charges under plea deals.
The initial indictment alleged that between 2010 and 2012, Leonid Teyf received kickbacks of Russian government funds amounting to more than $150 million, officials said. The indictment also alleged that since December 2010, Leonid and Tatyana Teyf and others opened at least 70 financial accounts at four financial institutions in the names of themselves and businesses under their control and received an approximate total of $39.5 million in 294 wire transfers, according to the news release.
By December 2018, about $9 million of these funds remained in accounts within the United States and the funds were seized at that time, the news release said.
In the plea agreement, both Teyfs agreed to forfeit assets in the total amount of $5,900,241 and Leonid Teyf agreed to forfeit a firearm linked to the case. He also agreed to be judicially deported once his sentence is complete, Friday’s news release said.
Charges of murder-for-hire, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, money laundering, harboring illegal aliens, were dropped in Leonid Teyf’s plea deal, the news release said.
He was sentenced to five years months in prison.
In Tatiana Teyf’s plea to the charge of false statement in an immigration matter, all other charges against her in the indictment were dismissed and the government did seek a prison term.
It’s unclear if Tatiana Teyf will stay in the United States. Her potential deportment would an administrative action not a judicial order, officials said Friday.
“Attempts to subvert U.S. laws through lies and bribery cannot be tolerated,” Acker said in the news release. “This is particularly true when such attempts are done with the intent of causing greater harm and this office stands ready to pursue these cases with every available tool.”