Leader of White Supremacist Group Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Make Death Threats Against Journalist
A five-count indictment was filed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn charging Roman Nikoghosyan, a member of a violent, Brooklyn-based Eurasian organized crime syndicate that operated primarily in the Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach neighborhoods, with two counts of Hobbs Act extortion conspiracy, one count of Hobbs Act extortion, interstate transportation of stolen property and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Nikoghosyan was arrested in Los Angeles, California on July 20, 2021 and ordered detained pending trial. He will be arraigned in the Eastern District of New York at a later date.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Jacqueline Maguire, Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the indictment.
“As alleged, the defendant is an extortionist who uses threats of violence and intimidation to coerce his victims into making extortionate payments to him for refusing to participate in his life of crime, which also includes illegally possessing a Hi-point 995 rifle despite his having a prior felony conviction,” stated Acting United States Attorney Kasulis. “Together with our law enforcement partners, this Office is working tirelessly to dismantle violent criminal organizations like KavKaz that threaten the safety of communities in the Eastern District.” Ms. Kasulis thanked the FBI and NYPD for their contributions to date in the investigation.
“Crime syndicates thrive on creating a deep fear in the communities where they operate, and members of these syndicates instill this fear through a range of criminal tactics to include violence, extortion, and narcotics trafficking,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Maguire. “Forcing someone against their will to transport drugs through threats of violence, as alleged done by the defendant, is criminal behavior. Our FBI Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, together with our NYPD partners, have made great strides in ridding local neighborhoods of these violent offenders, and we won’t stop our pursuit of them until they are stopped.”
“The NYPD remains vigilant in its work to prevent the violence so often associated with gangs and crews that tear at the fabric of life in New York. I commend our NYPD investigators, federal partners and prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York for their relentless work in this case,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
As set forth in court filings, KavKaz is a criminal enterprise that operates in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere, with Brooklyn as its largest base of operation. Members of KavKaz refer to their membership as the “KWAY” or “K WAY,” and often wear jewelry or articles of clothing emblazoned with the word “KavKaz.” Brooklyn-based members of KavKaz draw on ties to the Caucus region of Eurasia, namely Armenia, Uzbekistan, parts of Southern Russia and Azerbaijan, in furtherance of accomplishing their criminal goals, including extortion and narcotics trafficking.
In early 2021, Nikoghosyan was operating a narcotics distribution scheme in which he employed the victim of one of his extortionate schemes to transport packages containing marijuana. When the victim discovered the illicit content of the packages and refused to continue distributing the narcotics, Nikoghosyan, with the assistance of coconspirators, demanded $10,000 in extortionate payments from the victim, threatening to stab him or break his legs if he did not comply.
In addition, Nikoghosyan and co-conspirators plotted to transport luxury vehicles acquired by fraud from California to New York. Finally, Nikoghosyan, having been previously convicted of a felony, was charged with possessing a firearm, a Hi-point 995 rifle found during the execution of a search warrant on July 20, 2021 at a stash house in Brooklyn that was allegedly used by Nikoghosyan. During that search, law enforcement also recovered ammunition and a quantity of marijuana.
The charges in the indictment are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Galeotti and Dana Rehnquist are in charge of the prosecution.
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-cr-421 (RJD)
United States Attorney’s Office