DETROIT, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A Detroit strip club owner apparently fled to the Ukraine in 2005 to escape being charged with human smuggling, a U.S. magistrate has concluded.
U.S. Magistrate Laurie Michelson said in newly released court documents that just weeks after Veniamin Gonikman left the country his business partner and family members were charged with human trafficking, the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday.
They were accused of smuggling eastern European women into the United States and forcing them to work long hours at Detroit strip clubs.
Gonikman’s son and other associates are serving prison sentences ranging from seven to 14 years.
“It would be unrealistic optimism — or denial — for (the) defendant to think he was not next or had not already been charged,” Michelson wrote.
She recommended that Gonikman’s request to have the charges against him dropped be denied.
New details released Monday indicate Gonikman offered a senior Ukrainian investigator $500,000 to let him go after he was discovered living openly in a Ukrainian village in January.