Crime

$2M, diamonds, gold, and Brazilian properties: What the feds seized in Babichenko raid

‘It scared a lot of people,’ said Morning Star Christian Church member

Morning Star Christian Church in Boise and a school that are on a list of properties seized by federal authorities as part of indictments against the Babichenko family is still operating, but members say its bank account was frozen.
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Morning Star Christian Church in Boise and a school that are on a list of properties seized by federal authorities as part of indictments against the Babichenko family is still operating, but members say its bank account was frozen.

New court documents filed by federal prosecutors reveal what the government seized when it arrested 10 people in the Treasure Valley on charges of trafficking counterfeit goods.

A grand jury in August indicted the group on 34 counts related to fraud, money laundering and trafficking fake Apple and Samsung phones and other devices into the U.S. Prosecutors allege the defendants smuggled in the fake products from Asia, repackaged them in two local warehouses, then sold them online as new and genuine.

The defendants are Pavel, Gennady, Piotr, Timofey, Kristina and Natalya Babichenko; David Bibikov, Anna and Mikhail Iyerusalimets and Artur Pupko.

All of them pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Wednesday. The case could go to trial as early as July 29.

The federal government has seized property and money that prosecutors say was used, or resulted from, the alleged crimes. If the defendants are convicted, the property would be forfeited to the U.S. government, according to the court filing.

That includes:

  • About $2 million from three dozen bank accounts and four Amazon accounts.
  • Cash totaling $53,380 from the defendants’ homes and businesses around the valley.
  • Seven residential and business properties the defendants own across the Treasure Valley.
  • Seven buildings they own in Brazil.
  • Ten vehicles registered to the defendants — six cars and trucks, a motorcycle, an ATV and a luxury RV.
  • Gold and silver coins and bars that had a minimum estimated value of about $29,000 as of Wednesday, according to price guides from two coin grading and certification services.

  • A men’s Rolex Model 16013 watch and 30 diamond rings.

  • About 60 pallets of “cell phones, wrappers and packaging” that prosecutors say were counterfeit.

The seizures include the home and bank accounts of the Morning Star Christian Church and an associated private school. After the arrests, church members continued to hold services and classes there. Congregants told the Statesman then that they believed the defendants, who included church leadership, were innocent — that the charges were false or resulted from a misunderstanding.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in the court filing that it wasn’t able to seize at least $10 million in property.

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