Worried that your divorce might be ugly?
It’s always a possibility, but the good news is that however bad your divorce may, or may not, end up being, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to live through what Oleg Mitnik, 46, has endured during his split with his wife.
It seems that Oleg’s father-in-law, Anatoly Potik, 67, thought he could save his dear daughter a lot of heartache if he could help her skip a lengthy and costly divorce, so he did the fatherly thing and hired a hitman to take out Oleg.
Unsurprisingly, there were widespread consequences to this decision, and absolutely nothing went according to plan.
Oleg is a Russian emigre who’s made a fortune in the shipping trade.
He owns TRT International, a freight shipping concern headquartered in Newark, New Jersey.
His wife, Ronit Potik Mitnik, 42, has reportedly spent much of the divorce, first filed in 2014, trying to track down a treasure trove of hidden funds that she believes Oleg has stashed overseas.
A person close to the situation told Page Six, “Oleg has what’s been purported to be hundreds of millions of dollars sitting overseas and doesn’t want to give that up in the divorce.”
The pair have two teenage children, whose custody appears to be the primary stumbling block at this point in the divorce, and then there’s the small matter of Oleg’s $8 million life insurance policy.
It seems that Ronit’s dad made a quick calculation that his daughter would be much better off inheriting all of Oleg’s money, plus the $8 million in insurance funds, so he reached out to a mob-connected hitman named Boris “Biba” Nayfield.
He offered Biba $100,000 to take care of the matter for him.
Before following through, Biba chatted with an associate about the plot, a man named Boris Kotlyarsky.
Kotlyarsky knew of Oleg, and informed Biba that he was “a good guy,” and someone who could be negotiated with.
The idea was that Biba, who is known to authorities as a figure with a long association to organized crime and a history of heroin trafficking, could more than double his money by shaking Oleg down for $125,000 to call off the hit.
According to later court records, Kotlyarsky told Biba, “Why don’t you relay that information to [Oleg] and he will pay you for that.”
The two agreed, and Kotlyarsky called Oleg, told him about the proposed hit, and said that if he, “came to an agreement with the hitman, then the hitman would not take Potik’s money and would instead tell Potik to get lost.”
Oleg agreed to meet with Biba the next day at a restaurant in Brooklyn, which must have been one of the more anxiety-inducing meetings of Oleg’s life.
It went well, at least as far as an extortion scheme can.
Oleg handed over a check for $50,000 as a downpayment for Biba canceling the hit. Another $75,000 would come when he told Potik the hit was off.
What none of the players in this drama knew was that Oleg wasn’t dealing with this issue on his own.
After meeting with Biba, he went to the FBI and told them everything. He even believed he had figured out why the hit had been made when it was: He had recently taken steps to remove Ronit as the beneficiary on that big life insurance policy, so her dad was trying to act fast to maximize her earnings in the event of Oleg’s untimely murder.
Within a week, Biba had reached out to Potik, and more than canceling the hit, he expanded the extortion scheme even further.
According to court records, Biba said, “Forget about your son-in-law. I intend to get everything to the last penny from you.”
We know this because the following day, the FBI nabbed both Biba and Kotlyarsky and promptly charged them with extortion.
Ronit’s parents were swept up at JFK Airport, where they were trying to exit the country and, presumably, avoid the fallout from the botched plan to kill their son-in-law.
Ronit herself tried to solve her parents’ legal problem by telling Oleg that she would sign on to a divorce settlement if he would just go back to the FBI and tell them he made the whole story up.
Sounds like slam dunk of a case, doesn’t it?
The FBI almost certainly had records of the funds that were transferred to Biba, as well as whatever blame game the various arrestees decided to play under questioning.
Oleg’s life would certainly be getting back to normal soon, right? Well, as it turns out, no.
A few months later, a district court judge in New York dismissed the charges against the elder Potik in the murder for hire case, which prompted Ronit to declare victory in the media and tell reporters that Oleg invented the whole sordid tale.
On the other hand, Biba and Kotlyarsky have had a much longer ride in the legal system that only recently ended with agreements to cooperate with authorities investigating Russian mobsters in the New York area.
It’s entirely possible that Potik made a similar deal to get out of his mess, and Biba is still facing up to 40 years for his role in the murder for hire scheme, as well as his extortion of Oleg.
As for Oleg himself, his life has never gotten back to normal.
His divorce from Ronit is still not concluded, and he recently felt compelled to send a letter to Manhattan Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein, explaining what it’s like to try to go through his days with his murderous father-in-law on the loose.
“I cannot sleep, I take different routes to and from my home and work, my personal and family relationships have been harmed,” he wrote.
The government ended up charging Potik merely with failing to report an extortion, and if he’s convicted, he’ll serve between four and ten months in federal prison.
Oleg remains trapped in an unending divorce, worried that at any moment, a paid assassin might take his life.
When your marriage in Queens is ending, experienced legal help is the best way to have a fast, smooth divorce.
Call the experienced divorce team at Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino today at 718-523-1111 for a free consultation.