Mon. Apr 15th, 2024
alert-–-russian-‘double-agent’-alexander-smirnov-pleads-not-guilty-to-lying-to-fbi-about biden-corruption-scheme-in-federal-court-hearing-in-laAlert – Russian ‘double agent’ Alexander Smirnov pleads NOT GUILTY to lying to FBI about Biden corruption scheme in federal court hearing in LA

Alleged Russian double agent Alexander Smirnov pleaded not guilty to lying to the FBI about a corruption scheme involving President Biden and his son Hunter on Monday. 

The 43-year-old, who had been in custody since he was arrested for a second time last Thursday, appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom in a federal inmates’ outfit of a gray jumpsuit, orange shirt, and orange crocs. 

He was ordered to remain in custody as he awaits trial. 

Smirnov was represented by four attorneys, including top celebrity Vegas lawyer David Chesnoff.

Smirnov, who has never been publicly pictured without his face covered, has a light, tanned complexion with short cropped salt and pepper hair and a thick, trimmed beard.

Alexander Smirnoff has never been publicly photographed without his face covered. A court artist's sketch shoows his close-xcut salt and pepper hair, thick beard and glasses

Alexander Smirnoff has never been publicly photographed without his face covered. A court artist’s sketch shoows his close-xcut salt and pepper hair, thick beard and glasses

Alexander Smirnov (pictured leaving a Las Vegas court last week) who has never been publicly pictured without his face covered, pleaded not guilty to lying to the FBI during his federal court appearance in LA on Monday

Alexander Smirnov (pictured leaving a Las Vegas court last week) who has never been publicly pictured without his face covered, pleaded not guilty to lying to the FBI during his federal court appearance in LA on Monday

Smirnov’s cousin Linor Shefer (center) and girlfriend Diana Lavrenyuk kept their faces hidden as his lawyer David Chesnoff spoke to reporters after Monday’s hearing

Joe Biden

Hunter Biden

Smirnov, revealed in an indictment last week to be a 43-year-old FBI informant , fed an allegedly false story to his handlers in 2020 about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter (pictured arriving in Washington, D.C. on Sunday) taking $10million bribes from a Ukrainian oligarch

He wore black-rimmed glasses, which he removed to peer at court documents. His attorneys say he has glaucoma and requires daily medication. He had dark circles around his eyes.

Prosecutor Leo Wise argued that Smirnov should be kept in custody because he was not forthcoming about his finances, claiming he only had $6,500 in a personal account when he in fact had access to almost $6million.

He emphasized Smirnov’s contacts with Russian intelligence officers, though Chesnoff said ‘any connections with foreign agents were at the direction of the government… to accomplish his role’ as an informant. 

‘They’ve thrown him to the wolves,’ Chesnoff said. 

The judge frequently interrupted the defense attorney, and appeared highly skeptical of his arguments.

He also pointed to Smirnov’s mysterious finances, saying he had about $10,000 income per month, versus credit card bills of $180,000 in 2022, and over $220,000 in 2023.

Wise said Smirnov gave conflicting answers, telling prison officers he worked in ‘security’ while his lawyers told the judge he ran a ‘financial’ company.

Smirnov’s long-term girlfriend Diana Lavrenyuk, 58, attended the hearing with her son, Nikolay, 39.

Smirnov’s cousin Linor Shefer, 38, and his friend and business partner Nadav Rozenberg, 42, joined them. Both are Israeli-Americans.

They huddled outside the courtroom ahead of the hearing, talking nervously in Russian.

Wise said that Diana Lavrenyuk told pre-trial services she didn’t know how much was in her account, when the figure was in fact $3.7million.

Wise added that Smirnov’s Citi credit card bills of several thousand a month were paid from her account, and his residence was in her name.

Chesnoff told the judge that his client was pleading not guilty and that the claims of lies to the FBI ‘will be a highly contested part of this trial’.

Federal Judge Otis Wright II swatted away Chesnoff’s offer of 24-hour private security paid by Smirnov to ensure he didn’t flee, telling him: ‘I have not changed my mind.’

Alexander Smirnov, second from right, leaves the courthouse on Tuesday February 20 in Las Vegas flanked by his cousin Linor Shefer, 38, and his girlfriend's son Nikolay Lavrenyuk, 39

Alexander Smirnov, second from right, leaves the courthouse on Tuesday February 20 in Las Vegas flanked by his cousin Linor Shefer, 38, and his girlfriend’s son Nikolay Lavrenyuk, 39

Former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, left, walks out of his lawyer's office in downtown Las Vegas after being released from federal custody Tuesday, February 20

Former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, left, walks out of his lawyer’s office in downtown Las Vegas after being released from federal custody Tuesday, February 20

Smirnov's long-term girlfriend Diana Lavrenyuk, 58, (right) attended the hearing with her son, Nikolay (left). They are pictured posing together in a selfie with another woman

Smirnov’s long-term girlfriend Diana Lavrenyuk, 58, (right) attended the hearing with her son, Nikolay (left). They are pictured posing together in a selfie with another woman 

Smirnoff listens as attorney David Chesnoff makes a point during Monday's hearing. Between them is Chesnoff's law partner Richard Schonfeld

Smirnoff listens as attorney David Chesnoff makes a point during Monday’s hearing. Between them is Chesnoff’s law partner Richard Schonfeld

Chesnoff said: ‘This is going to be an interesting and complicated case’ and that his client would be ‘contacting people around the world… who can refute allegations’ against him.

He added that contact with Smirnov in custody was difficult because he had been removed from the general prison population, due to his alleged status as a potential double agent for Russian intelligence.

Judge Wright sternly told Smirnov he had been unable to ‘satisfy my concern you will not flee the jurisdiction.’

He also chided the prosecution for filing an indictment that was ‘longer than it needs to be’.

While sat in court Smirnov looked furtively over at his girlfriend Diana, who motioned to him to turn and face the judge.

Smirnov, revealed in an indictment last week to be a 43-year-old FBI informant, is accused of feeding an allegedly false story to his handlers in 2020 about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter taking $10million bribes from a Ukrainian oligarch.

Smirnov now faces up to 25 years in prison for allegedly fabricating the claims, and is accused of ‘high-level’ and ‘extremely recent’ links with senior Russian intelligence officials – including the chief of an assassination squad.

His defense attorney revealed Smirnov also worked with the Department of Defense in his more than 10 years as an informant.

But Judge Wright was unimpressed with their arguments to keep him out of custody, and sent him back into the arms of US Marshals after the hearing.

Outside the court Chesnoff gave a brief statement to media, saying he would appeal the judge’s decision to lock up Smirnov. 

Judge Wright made the decision after prosecutors revealed they arrested Israeli-American Smirnov at his attorney’s office because he had nine guns, including automatic weapons, at his Las Vegas condo.

Smirnov, an Israeli-American who once lived in Ukraine, was a trusted FBI informant, had been paid by the Bureau for his information, and was even previously ‘authorized to engage in criminal activity as part of an on-going criminal investigation’ according to prosecutors.

In 2020 he told his FBI handler that Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Ukrainian gas firm Burisma, bragged to him about bribing Joe Biden and his son Hunter with $10 million to shut down a criminal probe, in 2015 and 2016 meetings.

DailyMail.com spotted Hunter Biden at Dulles Airport on Sunday after he flew in from Los Angeles ahead of a deposition scheduled for Wednesday on Capitol Hill

DailyMail.com spotted Hunter Biden at Dulles Airport on Sunday after he flew in from Los Angeles ahead of a deposition scheduled for Wednesday on Capitol Hill

The First Son will appear on Capitol Hill Wednesday for closed doors questioning from the members of three House committees

The First Son will appear on Capitol Hill Wednesday for closed doors questioning from the members of three House committees

An FBI report describing his claims became one of the shocking documents in the Republican impeachment probe of the president when it was published last year.

But the allegations are now being cast as potential Russian propaganda by Special Prosecutor David Weiss.

In federal court filings, Weiss says Smirnov’s travel and communication records show the 2015 meetings he claimed to have with Burisma executives never occurred.

Another of Weiss’s filings claimed Smirnov had ‘high-level contacts with Russian intelligence operatives’, and that he passed on ‘false information’ to the FBI from these sources.

The filing said Smirnov told his FBI handlers that one of his confidants was a son of a ‘former high-ranking Russian government official,’ who ‘controls two groups of individuals tasked with carrying out assassination efforts in a third-party country.’

Smirnov appeared in the Los Angeles federal court on Monday morning, accompanied by his attorney David Chesnoff, to ask for his temporary release from custody.

Weiss’ deputies Leo Wise and Derek Hines, who have also been running a tax crimes prosecution against Hunter Biden, appeared for the government. 

In court filings, prosecutors said Smirnov had planned to be back in the US for just two days, before flying to meet his Kremlin spy contacts.

Smirnov was arrested on February 14 as he arrived in Las Vegas from a foreign trip.

A federal judge sitting in Vegas allowed Smirnov to be released Tuesday evening following a hearing, with certain conditions attached including a GPS monitor and the surrender of his U.S. and Israeli passports.

But Judge Wright ordered Smirnov’s re-arrest on Thursday and set the hearing on his detainment in Los Angeles.

Smirnov's cousin Linor Shefer was in court on Monday.She was a contestant on the Israeli version of reality show Big Brother, and in 2014 won the Moscow beauty pageant ‘Miss Jewish Star’

Smirnov’s cousin Linor Shefer was in court on Monday.She was a contestant on the Israeli version of reality show Big Brother, and in 2014 won the Moscow beauty pageant ‘Miss Jewish Star’

Smirnov's business parter Nadav Rozenberg was also in court to support him in his bid for freedom

Smirnov’s business parter Nadav Rozenberg was also in court to support him in his bid for freedom

Shefer, pleaded with the judge to release him in a letter filed to the Los Angeles federal court on Friday.

Shefer said Smirnov lived in the US ‘almost half his life’, and promised he would not flee prosecution.

She wrote that he grew up in Israel, spoke Russian after living in Ukraine under Soviet rule, but has lived in the US ‘more than any other country’, and that prosecutors’ claim that he had no ties here was false.

She added that he is a ‘sick man’ with glaucoma who ‘barely sees out of both of his eyes’.

Nikolay Lavrenyuk – who described himself as a US government economist in the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and a former Marine – also wrote to the judge asking for his release. 

In a filing on Friday, Chesnoff argued that a pretrial services officer Emily McKillip recommended his release.

Weiss said Smirnov had avoided disclosing that he had access to almost $6million in ‘liquid funds’, including $3.8million accessible by Lavrenyuk, who pays his personal expenses from her own account.

Residency records show her living with Smirnov in San Juan Capistrano, California,  until 2023, though the home was in Nikolay’s name.

She bought a three-bed, 2,805 sq ft condo in a Vegas luxury high-rise for $980,000 in February 2022 and moved there last year, neighbors told DailyMail.com. Weiss said bank records show Smirnov wired her large amounts before the purchase.

Former neighbors told DailyMail.com last week that they picked up hints of Smirnov’s double life in his mysterious and vague descriptions of his work with the government.

One neighbor in the cul-de-sac of the gated San Juan Capistrano community said that Smirnov had even mentioned a meeting with the Afghan minister of defense and contacts with senior US officials.

Smirnov’s claims of Biden bribes had been an important component of the GOP’s impeachment case against Biden.

But House committee chiefs told DailyMail.com that they had plenty of evidence of potential corruption besides Smirnov’s claims, and that their impeachment case did not rely on him.

‘Nothing has changed. We have plenty of evidence that shows impeachable conduct,’ Judiciary Committee spokesman Russell Dye said.

House Oversight Chair James Comer, who is running the Biden impeachment probe, said that the FBI had at first refused to hand over the write-up of Smirnov’s interviews because they didn’t want to compromise their ‘invaluable’ source.

‘FBI officials and Director (Christopher) Wray refused to release the form publicly because they claimed it would jeopardize the safety of a confidential human source who they claimed was invaluable to the FBI,’ Comer said in a statement.

‘When asked by the committee about their confidence in the confidential human source, the FBI told the committee the confidential human source was credible and trusted, had worked with the FBI for over a decade, and had been paid six figures.

‘The FBI had this form for years and it appears they did nothing to verify the troubling claims contained within the record until Congress became aware of and demanded access to them.’

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