Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 48 Months for International Bank Heists
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
The Group Stole $30 Million from Seven Foreign Countries Before Laundering the Money to the United States
Earlier today, Garri Smith was sentenced to 48 months in prison by United States District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, for money laundering conspiracy in connection with his role in a multi-year scheme in which he and his co-conspirators stole millions of dollars from bank safety deposit boxes in seven foreign countries. Smith pled guilty to the charge in June 2022.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Erin Keegan, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), New York and James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI) announced the sentence.
“Smith used deception and high-tech medical equipment to break into safety deposit boxes and steal millions of dollars, jewelry and even gold bars from customers around the world,” stated United States Attorney Breon Peace. “This prosecution represents our continued commitment to combat theft and fraud, and put a stop to individuals who seek to use U.S. banks to launder their ill-gotten gains.”
Mr. Peace also expressed his appreciation for the assistance of the New York City Police Department, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and the governments of Azerbaijan, Latvia, Moldova, North Macedonia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan in the investigation.
“Garri Smith stole a fortune from banks around the world in a scheme more suited for a Hollywood production. He sought wealth and the finer things, but instead landed himself on the wrong side of the law,” said HSI New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Erin Keegan. “I want to thank FBI New York and our law enforcement partners here and abroad, who together have shown that even the craftiest of criminals will ultimately get caught.”
According to court filings and facts presented during the sentencing proceeding, Smith and other members of the conspiracy would pose as customers at the target banks in countries including Ukraine, Russia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Latvia, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, where they would rent safety deposit boxes, sometimes using fake identification documents. After they gained access to rooms at the banks where these safety deposit boxes were located, they used specialized medical equipment to take photographs of the inside of the locks on other customers’ safety deposit boxes. Using these photographs, the conspirators created duplicate keys to access the safety deposit boxes and used those keys to steal money and other valuables, including jewelry and gold bars, from the banks’ customers. For his role in the thefts, Smith is accountable for a loss of $5.1 million. They then laundered their ill-gotten gains into their United States-based bank accounts.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States
E.D.N.Y. Docket No.
Danielle Blustein Hass
U.S. Attorney's Office
Updated January 25, 2024