United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
ORDER (SEALED) 
W. FLANAGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on defendant's motion to
suppress certain evidence and return seized and restrained
property, in accordance with the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth
Amendments to the United States Constitution. (DE 182).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 59(b), United States Magistrate Judge
Robert T. Numbers, Jr., entered memorandum and recommendation
(“M&R”), wherein it is recommended that
defendant's motion be denied. (DE 247). Following
opportunity to secure new retained counsel, defendant timely
objected to the M&R. In this posture, the issues raised
are ripe for ruling. For the reasons noted, defendant's
motion to suppress evidence and return seized and restrained
property is denied.
OF THE CASE
was indicted for conspiracy to commit money laundering, money
laundering, bribery of a public official, murder for hire,
possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number,
conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, visa fraud, making false
statements on a tax return, and failing to file a report of
foreign bank and financial accounts. In the fourth
superceding indictment returned May 9, 2019, the government
also noticed forfeiture of certain property in this case,
including: four tracts of real property; 17 firearms; all
related ammunition and accessories; six motor vehicles;
artwork purchased on or about August 14, 2015, for $2, 600,
000.00; 25 bank accounts; miscellaneous jewelry; and sums of
March 15, 2019, defendant filed the instant motion to
suppress. Defendant contends that seizure warrants issued
December 5, 2018, pertaining to four motor vehicles and 22
bank accounts, are not supported by probable cause. Defendant
argues that, even if the seizure warrants are facially valid,
the affidavits supporting the seizure warrants contain false
and misleading statements rendering the warrants defective.
Defendant further argues the seizures of his property,
including his cars, artwork, and currency, made at his
residences located on New Market Way and Glenwood Avenue in
Raleigh, North Carolina, exceeded the scope of the search
warrants issued for those locations. Finally, defendant
asserts the government unlawfully restrained assets untainted
by defendant's alleged bribery and kickback scheme. In
support of the motion, defendant relies upon an officer's
affidavit from one of the seizure warrants,  administrative
notice of forfeiture, the report of investigation from the
United States Department of Homeland Security debriefing
confidential source one (“CS-1”), and search
warrants issued by a magistrate judge for the New Market Way
and Glenwood Avenue properties.
hearing on April 24, 2019, the magistrate judge issued
M&R, recommending the court deny defendant's motion
in its entirety, except for release of defendant's
jewelry, which had already been released May 8, 2019, by
order of the court. After a delay caused by withdrawal of
defense counsel, defendant's newly retained counsel
timely filed objections to the M&R.
court recites the facts as summarized in the affidavits
supporting the warrants for seizure of defendant's bank
accounts and motor vehicles. From approximately February 2007
to November 2012, Anatoliy Serdyukov
(“Serdyukov”) served as Russian Minister of
Defense. (Officer's Aff. (DE 182-1) ¶ 62.b.). During
that time, the company Voentorg became the primary contractor
and private supplier to the Russian military. (Id.).
Between 2010 and 2012, defendant served as Deputy Director of
Voentorg, and he awarded contracts to subcontractors that
fulfilled the government contracts. (Id.).
provided security to defendant while in Russia and acted as a
go-between for defendant and business associates.
(Id. ¶ 62.a.). CS-1 overheard conversations
between defendant and subcontractors discussing a
“kickback” as a “percentage” of the
contract to be paid by the subcontractors to defendant.
(Id. ¶ 62.c.). CS-1 was also present for
multiple conversations between defendant and Andrei Shokin
(“Shokin”), who defendant hired to manage his
companies. (Id. ¶ 62.d.). The focus of these
conversations was on how to transfer the kickback proceeds.
(Id.). Defendant also hired Yelena Zelenova
(“Zelenova”), an accountant who maintained
records of defendant's companies, including any kickbacks
the scheme was being perpetrated, defendant instructed CS-1
to meet couriers at various locations around Russia to
receive large sums of cash. (Id. ¶ 62.e.). CS-1
opened the packages to ensure money was enclosed but never
counted the cash due to the significant amounts involved.
(Id.). Upon receipt, defendant would call CS-1 and
tell the source where to deliver the proceeds; CS-1 took the
cash to the particular accountant as instructed.
(Id.). The accountants were coordinated by Zelenova
but did not work directly for her. (Id.).
the kickback proceeds were paid by defendant to Serdyukov,
with defendant retaining the next largest share, and any
remaining amount paid to other co-conspirators. (Id.
¶ 62.f.). CS-1 made three deliveries of large amounts of
cash to Serdyukov through Serdyukov's son-in-law
“Puzikov.” (Id.). CS-1 estimated the
cash to be in the amounts of $70, 000, 000.00, $30, 000,
000.00, and $50, 000, 000.00. (Id.). Sometime in or
about 2013, defendant's scheme became public.
(Id. ¶ 62.g.). An investigation was initiated
by Russian authorities. (Id.). At defendant's
direction, $400, 000.00 was delivered to an associate of the
chief prosecutor in order to end the investigation.
would take money for defendant or sometimes provide escorts
for others taking money on behalf of defendant to Alfa Bank
in Russia. (Id. ¶ 62.h.). While handling
defendant's emails, CS-1 saw documents showing defendant
transferred some of the money internationally.
meantime, defendant made arrangements to move to the United
States. In 2010, John P. Cotter (“Cotter”), as
shareholder of Delta Plus, LLC, sponsored defendant to
receive a United States visa. (Id. ¶ 6). Delta
Plus, LLC, is a controlled subsidiary of FG Delta Plus, with
FG Delta Plus contributing 80% of the capital or $480, 000.00
to Delta Plus, LLC. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 67). On or
about December 28, 2010, Cotter testified under oath in a
Form I-140 that defendant was seeking status as an
alien worker in the United States to permanently assume the
position of President of Delta Plus, LLC with an annual
salary of $110, 000.00. (Id. ¶ 66.a.).
Defendant signed Forms I-134 on or about December 28, 2010.
(Id. ¶ 4). He declared that he was president of
Delta Plus, LLC, effective May 2010, and had previously
served as president of FG Delta Plus from April 2005 to May
2010. (Id. ¶ 4.c.).
January 18, 2011 and October 2, 2013, defendant and
co-defendant Tatyana Teyf received approximately $39, 500,
000.00 through close to 300 wires into four domestic bank
accounts controlled by them. (Id. ¶¶ 31,
71). The money wires originated from bank accounts held by
numerous businesses in countries denominated by the United
States Department of State as “jurisdictions of
concern” and “jurisdictions of primary
concern” for money laundering. (Id. ¶
73). Some of wire instructions accompanying the transfers
appear inconsistent with defendant's representations in
his tax returns and immigration applications. (See
id. ¶ 72 n.2, 3, 4, 5). Since January 19, 2011,
defendant and his associates made over 575 transfers between
the accounts used to receive the international wires and
other bank accounts under their control. (Id. ¶
to moving to the United States, defendant entered into other
ventures with co-defendants Alexey Timofeev, Alexei Polyakov,
and others, including CTK Transportation, Inc. (2012);
Carolina Transport Group, Inc. (2014); and Lank Ventures, LLC
(2017). (See id. ¶¶ 13-15). For calendar
years 2011 through 2013, defendant and co-defendant Tatyana
Teyf filed joint income tax returns. (Id. ¶
77). These defendants reported total household income of $53,
155.00 in 2011, $99, 106.00 in 2012, and $59, 296.00 in 2013.
(See id. ¶ 77.a.). Defendants reported during
those years that they had no financial interest in or
signatory authority over a financial account located in a
foreign country. (Id. ¶ 77.b.). In addition,
CTK Transportation reported no net receipts in 2012 and $432,
548.00 in 2013. (Id. ¶ 78).
facts pertinent to the instant motion will be discussed
Standard of Review
district court reviews de novo those portions of a magistrate
judge's M&R to which specific objections are filed.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The court does not perform a de novo
review where a party makes only “general and conclusory
objections that do not direct the court to a specific error
in the magistrate's proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). Absent a specific and timely filed
objection, the court reviews only for “clear error,
” and need not give any explanation for adopting the
M&R. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005); Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983). Upon careful