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Suspect in Kidnap Ring Cooperating

Courts: Documents show Sherman Oaks man has immunity deal.


A Sherman Oaks man charged in the kidnapping of one of five people found dead in the gold country led authorities to the lake where the bodies were dumped and is cooperating with prosecutors, according to court documents obtained Monday.

The suspect, Ainar Altmanis, 42, wanted to "tell the FBI everything" after his arrest in February and later worked out a "use immunity" agreement with federal prosecutors, his attorney, Ellen M. Barry, says in the documents.

Typically, such agreements prevent anything informants say from being used against them.

Altmanis is one of six people charged in what federal authorities describe as a kidnap-for-ransom ring operating in Southern California. All the suspects have roots in Eastern Europe.

The documents filed by Barry on March 21 were an application to seal an affidavit supporting the government's complaint against Altmanis. U.S. District Judge Christine Snyder sealed the affidavit, but the application remained in a public court file.

Neither Barry nor a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office would confirm that Altmanis has been helping the FBI and prosecutors.

The documents say Altmanis has informed authorities that the "kidnappings charged in this indictment [against Altmanis], as well as other uncharged kidnappings, resulted in the deaths of the victims."

No murder charges have been filed. The U.S. attorney's office says it might bring more charges, however.

The documents also say Altmanis provided details about "other uncharged conduct relating to these crimes."

As a result of these disclosures, Barry says in the documents, Altmanis fears he will be killed by friends of the co-defendants, as well as those of at least one victim. She did not identify the victim.

A federal indictment charges Altmanis and Petro Krylov, 29, of West Hollywood with aiding and abetting in the kidnapping of Alexander Umansky, 35, of North Hollywood.

Encino residents Iouri Mikhel, 36, and Jurijus Kadamovas, 35, are charged with directly participating in the abductions of Umansky and businessman George Safiev, 37, of Beverly Hills.

In a separate indictment, two Russian nationals living in the United Arab Emirates, Andrei Agueev and Andrei Liapine, are charged with receiving about $235,000 wired to them as ransom for Umansky. Both were arrested in Dubai and transported by the FBI to Los Angeles.

All of the suspects have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail. A seventh suspect is still being sought.

The weighted bodies of Umansky and Safiev were pulled last month from the New Melones Lake in Calaveras County, along with the bodies of Safiev's business associates, Rita Pekler and Nick Kharabadze.

The body of Sherman Oaks developer Meyer Muscatel was pulled from the lake in October.

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