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Press Release

Leader Of Georgian Crime Syndicate And Associates Charged With Extortion Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James Smith, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging VAZHA GABADADZE, a/k/a “Natan Yusupov,” KAKHA KATSADZE, TEIMURAZ TAVBERIDZE, a/k/a “Tava,” and DAVIT TIKARADZE, a/k/a “Dato,” with extortion offenses.  GABADADZE, KATSADZE, TAVBERIDZE, and TIKARADZE were arrested today and will be presented this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged in the indictment, Gabadadze, a leader within an international criminal syndicate, and his associates threatened their victim with physical violence in order to extract money.  Thanks to the dedication of the FBI and the prosecutors of this Office, all four defendants now face federal charges.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said: “Forcing a victim to pay money using intimidation and threats of violence is illegal and not how business is conducted in our city.  This illicit behavior is exactly what these defendants are alleged to have conspired to carry out over several months.  The FBI will not stand idly by while organized crime members take part in violence and extortion, instead we will hold them accountable in the criminal justice system.”

As alleged in the Indictment:[1]

From about September 2022 through about August 2023, GABADADZE, KATSADZE, TAVBERIDZE, and TIKARADZE engaged in a scheme of extortion.  GABADADZE is a leader within an organized criminal group.  He holds the title of “vor v zakone” or “vor,” which are Russian phrases translated roughly as “Thief-in-Law” or “Thief,” and which refer to an order of elite criminals from the former Soviet Union who receive tribute from other criminals, offer protection, and use their recognized status as “vor” to adjudicate disputes among lower-level criminals.  As part of the organized criminal group, GABADADZE and his associates, KATSADZE, TAVBERIDZE, and TIKARADZE, induced their victim to make monetary payments through the use of threatened force and fear.

*                *                *

GABADADZE, 41, KATSADZE, 45, TAVBERIDZE, 54 and TIKARADZE, 53, all of Kutaisi, Georgia, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and one count of extortion.  Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.  Mr. Williams also thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the New York City Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises and General Crimes Units.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anden Chow and Chelsea Scism are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitutes only allegations, and every fact described herein should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated November 14, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-391