New York jeweler pleads guilty to laundering money from Richmond jewelry heists

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WRIC) — A New York man pleaded guilty Thursday to charges related to laundering the proceeds of a sophisticated jewelry theft ring.

In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, 44-year-old Slavik Hayimov, also known as Steve Hayimov, of Queens, New York, conspired with a jewelry theft ring that was based in Richmond.

The thieves regularly conducted lengthy surveillance on jewelry stores to identify vulnerable targets. They then followed the individuals to their hotels or homes. In most of the robberies, several men would suddenly appear as the victims approached or entered their car, punch out the car’s windows, threatenthe victims at knife-point and then steal the victims’ merchandise. The robbers would also puncture the victims’ car tires and steal their cell phone to reduce the chance of pursuit or apprehension.

The theft ring ultimately stole more than $5 million in jewelry from victims in Virginia and at least six other states.

After a successful robbery, members of the ring would travel to New York to sell the merchandise to Hayimov, according to court documents. Knowing that the merchandise was stolen, Hayimov paid far less than fair market value for the jewelry. To conceal his and the theft ring’s activities, he paid for the stolen merchandise in cash and by making anonymous bank deposits.

Members of the group used the funds provided by Hayimov to purchase investment properties and pay for expenses they incurred while committing crimes.

Hayimov was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 18, 2014. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced on February 26, 2016.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Charles E. Smith, Special Agent in Charge of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division; and John S. Adams, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric M. Hurt and Trial Attorney Adam L. Small of the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

The case was investigated by the ATF and FBI-Norfolk, with assistance from Virginia police departments in Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Henrico County, Chesterfield, Prince William County, Fairfax County, and the Virginia State Police. Additional assistance was provided by police departments in Baltimore County, Maryland; Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; New York City Police Department; Rutherford Police Department, New Jersey; and Gwinnett County Police Department, Georgia. Also assisting was the Morris County, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office.

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