A downtown Raleigh condo filled with guns and cash — it’s the latest twist in FBI probe

An affair, a murder plot and a bribe. FBI revelations in North Raleigh lead to an arrest.

A man whose North Raleigh home was raided by the FBI in early December is accused of money laundering, plotting a murder-for-hire and defrauding the Russian government out of tens of millions of dollars.
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A man whose North Raleigh home was raided by the FBI in early December is accused of money laundering, plotting a murder-for-hire and defrauding the Russian government out of tens of millions of dollars.

A wealthy Russian man who has been the focus of media attention since the FBI raided his mansion earlier this month used a downtown Raleigh condominium as a “safe house” for guns, ammunition and cash, according to federal court testimony.

The condo at 510 Glenwood, a building in the Glenwood South neighborhood, was scarcely furnished when investigators searched it, FBI special agent Dennis Kinney testified Tuesday at the federal courthouse Raleigh.

“It didn’t appear anyone was living there,” Kinney said.

Tuesday’s hearing marked another chapter in the mysterious story of Leonid and Tatyana Teyf, who have been charged with money laundering and defrauding the Russian government out of millions of dollars.

Leonid Teyf, 57, faces additional charges of planning a murder-for-hire and bribing a federal agent to have his ex-wife’s lover sent back to Russia where he would likely be killed.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Numbers II on Tuesday granted federal prosecutors’ request that Leonid Teyf remain in jail. Tatyana Teyf, 41, was released and ordered to surrender her passport.

Kinney’s testimony showed that the FBI’s investigation went beyond the Teyfs’ $5 million house on New Market Way, along the North Ridge Country Club golf course.

The Teyfs, who came to the United States from Russia in 2010, own an empty office space on Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh, Wake County property records show, along with the downtown condominium.

Investigators found guns and “hundreds of rounds of ammunition” at the condo, Kinney testified. They also found a safe in the master bedroom that at one time contained thousands of dollars used to carry out the murder-for-hire scheme.

“Glenwood was literally a safe house, solely to keep a safe of guns and cash,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Kocher.

Kocher later added, “I don’t know how many other safe houses Mr. Teyf has.”

Leonid and Tatyana Teyf have business interests in at least six trucking companies registered in Illinois and Utah, according to 2017 court documents.

Leonid Teyf is president of a company that provides urgent-care services in the Raleigh area, according to court records. Testimony given Tuesday showed the services include Doctors Express in Cary.

Since 2010, court documents show, the Teyfs have opened at least 70 financial accounts at about four U.S. banks.

Foreign corporations and bank accounts in nations commonly known to be used for money laundering are the source of 293 wires that total more than $39.4 million, records show.

Investigators say Leonid Teyf used a kickback scheme to defraud the Russian government out of $150 million over a two-year span.

Murder plot

Kinney’s testimony also painted a dramatic picture of the Teyfs’ volatile and sometimes violent relationship. Federal court documents refer to Tatyana Teyf as Leonid’s wife, but Wake County court records indicate the couple separated in 2015 and divorced in 2017.

“On one occasion Mr. Teyf had ignited clothing that Ms. Teyf was wearing,” Kinney testified.

During the hearing Tuesday, Tatyana Teyf and Leonid Teyf didn’t look at one another.

Leonid Teyf is accused of plotting with his friend John Cotter to kill his former housekeeper’s son, who he believed was having an affair with Tatyana.

Investigators say Leonid Teyf and Cotter tried to bribe a federal agent in exchange for having the son deported to Russia, where he would likely be killed. He also moved forward with a plan to have the housekeeper’s son killed in the U.S., court records show.

In June, Teyf arranged for a confidential source to pick up a .40-caliber pistol wrapped in plastic tape under a bush next to Autowash Express on Six Forks Road, records show. The gun’s serial number had been obliterated.

During other meetings, investigators say, Teyf gave the confidential source payments of $5,000 and then $20,000 for the murder-for-hire scheme.

Teyf wanted the housekeeper’s son to be killed after the Christmas holiday, Kinney said.

Meanwhile, Kinney said, Leonid Teyf had booked a Dec. 15 flight back to Russia with Tatyana and his three children.

Leonid Teyf planned to have his ex-wife arrested when they arrived in Russia, Kinney testified.

If anyone asked about the death of the housekeeper’s son, Leonid Teyf said Tatyana should be named as the person responsible, Kinney said.

The housekeeper’s son fled Raleigh after he was threatened, Kinney testified.

Other charges

Three other people face federal charges in the case, including 40-year-old Alexi Polyaklov. He has been charged with attempting to obtain naturalization through false statements.

The latest arrest was last week, when Stephen Edward Myers Jr. of Raleigh was charged with cyber-stalking the housekeeper’s son by placing a GPS tracking device under his vehicle.

One of Leonid Teyf’s attorneys, Nathan White, argued Tuesday that his client’s son could serve as a “third-party custodian” upon release. Grigory Teyf, 18, who is enrolled at UNC-Greensboro, testified during the hearing Tuesday that his father had recently put a total of $15 million in three accounts that he had access to.

Federal prosecutor Jason Kellhofer asked whether Grigory Teyf was being groomed to take over his father’s business affairs after he went to Russia.

Grigory Teyf told the court he was learning how to run the business, but “I don’t have any decision making at all.”

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Virginia Bridges covers criminal justice in Orange and Durham counties for The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer. She has worked for newspapers for more than 15 years. In 2017, the N.C. Press Association awarded her first place for beat feature reporting. The N.C. State Bar Association awarded her the 2018 Media & Law Award for Best Series.