Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, November 8, 2018


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Ninth Circuit Upholds Illicit-Sex Convictions Of Man Sentenced to 150 Years in Prison

Defendant, Whose Offenses Took Place in Russia, To Be on ‘Life Supervision’ Upon Release


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed the conviction of a man sentenced to 150 years in prison, and supervised release for life after that, for illicit sex outside the United States.

Defendant Yuzef Abramov was sentenced March 14, 2016 by District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II. He was ordered to serve 30 years in prison on each of five counts, with the terms to be concurrent.

 Abramov, it was alleged, traveled to Russia seven times between 2009 and 2009 having sex with minors through intimidation. He was charged under 18 U.S.C. §2423(c), which provides:

“Any United States citizen or alien admitted for permanent residence who travels in foreign commerce or resides, either temporarily or permanently, in a foreign country, and engages in any illicit sexual conduct with another person shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”

The defendant argued that he could not “traveled” to Russia because that’s his domicile.

Oral Argument

At oral argument in Pasadena on March 6, 2018, attorney Anthony Solis, arguing for reversal, declared:

“Mr. Abramov was a resident of Russia. At the time he was going to Moscow, he was traveling home.”

Under case law, he asserted, “when you reach your home, you’re not traveling anymore.”

Circuit Judge William A. Fletcher remarked:

“He’s traveling multiple times a year to and from Russia. He’s not gone over to Russia and stayed there.

“He may well be a resident of Russia. He may also be a resident of the United States.”

The jurist pointed out:

“But ‘residing’ is not in the statute. ‘Traveling’ is in the statute.”

Wright’s Purported Finding

Solis insisted that Wright made an explicit finding not of dual citizenship but that Abramov resides in Russia, to which Fletcher responded:

“But the statute doesn’t carve out an exception for resident. The statute talks about travel and it talks about sexual misbehavior.

“It doesn’t say that if you’re a resident of the country to which you travel, you are exempt from the statute.”

Solis maintained that Abramov “wasn’t a sex tourist” which he said, is the person at whom the statute is aimed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Vijay Shanker said of Abramov:

“He traveled from the United States to Russia and thereafter committed sexual misconduct, and that falls squarely within the statute.”

Fletcher asked:

“Why is this not being prosecuted in Russia.

Shanker said he didn’t know.

Memorandum Opinion

A three judge panel responded in a memorandum opinion:

“When we view the facts in the light most favorable to the government…, the record does not bear out that characterization. Defendant resided in Los Angeles, where he had a driver’s license and where his children and ex-wife lived. Indeed, Defendant asserted in a 2013 letter to his member of Congress that, though he has ‘visited’ Russia several times, he has been a permanent resident of Los Angeles since 2000, and the charged conduct took place several years after that. Defendant traveled to Russia from California before each of the charged acts, which took place soon after his arrival in Russia, and then returned to California after each of the charged acts.”

The opinion rejects Solis’s contention that Wright found that Abramov is a resident of Russia. A footnote says:

“Defendant argues that, when granting a post-verdict acquittal on his conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 2423(b), which criminalizes a citizen’s travel in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct, the district court ‘found’ that Defendant lived in Russia. We disagree. The district court, in this jury trial, made no factual findings. Rather, the court came to a legal conclusion that there was insufficient evidence for a jury to find in the government’s favor on the dismissed count. And the reason why the court came to that conclusion appears to be that having sex with children was not the predominant reason for Defendant’s trips to Russia.”

The case is United States v. Abramov, No. 16-50104.


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