Wealthy Russian, at heart of NC murder-for-hire case, sentenced on lesser crimes

A wealthy Russian national, who lived in a $5 million home in Raleigh before his 2018 arrest on a slew of charges, including murder-for-hire, was sentenced to five years in prison Friday in North Carolina after pleading guilty to lesser charges.

Leonid Teyf, 59, pleaded guilty in March to bribery of a public official, visa fraud and making a false statement on a tax document. Teyf will be deported when he completes his sentence, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said.

Teyf and his ex-wife, Tatyana, will forfeit nearly $6 million in assets. Tatyana Teyf, 43, pleaded guilty in March to making a false statement in an immigration document, but all other charges were dismissed and she will not face prison time.

Leonid Teyf’s lawyer called the outcome Friday a “tremendous victory” after his client originally faced charges related to murder-for-hire, firearms, money laundering and harboring illegal aliens.

“With credit for time already served Mr. Teyf only has approximately 18 months left to complete his sentence,” said Robert S. Wolf, Teyf’s New York-based attorney, in an email.

Friday’s sentencing was in New Bern.

Teyf had faced up to 20 years in prison, The News & Observer previously reported. He was incarcerated throughout the pre-trial period.

The most salacious charges involved Teyf plotting to kill the son of a former housekeeper because he suspected him of having an affair with Teyf’s wife, Tatyana. Other allegations in a 2018 court filing included a $150 million kickback scheme involving a Russian company that provides goods and services to the Russian military.

The FBI raided their North Raleigh mansion in December 2018.

“Mr. Teyf also won the return of the vast majority of his previously seized assets, which will now be returned to him by the government,” Wolf said in a statement. “The government also withdrew their claims against Mr. Teyf’s numerous real estate properties and all of those will be returned.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, IRS, Homeland Security and the Raleigh Police Department.

Teyf was born in Belarus, which was part of the Soviet Union at the time, according to court documents. He and his then-wife came to the United States in 2010 and have three children. Wake County court records indicate the couple separated in 2015 and divorced in 2017, The N&O previously reported.

He and others have at least 70 financial accounts at multiple financial institutions and owned several businesses, including Doctors Express in Cary, according to court documents and testimony, The News & Observer previously reported.

He had ties to one of 13 Russians indicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 president election, though that connection was not mentioned in this case.

Five others were also charged with crimes in the high-profile case.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Brian Murphy covers North Carolina’s congressional delegation and state issues from Washington, D.C., for The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald-Sun. He grew up in Cary and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. He previously worked for news organizations in Georgia, Idaho and Virginia. Reach him at [email protected]

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