This Obese Mob Boss Is Twice the Villain Whitey Bulger Ever Was

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Aug. 5 2013 1:04 PM

This Obese Mob Boss Is Twice the Villain Whitey Bulger Ever Was

mogilevich
Semion Mogilevich in 2001

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Crime is Slate’s crime blog. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @slatecrime.

Name: Semion Mogilevich

Advertisement

Wanted for: Various fraud-related crimes; general supervillainy

Added to the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List: 2009

The circumstances: In 2011 the FBI apprehended fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger, the alleged Boston mob leader who had been on the bureau’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List for 12 years. At the time an FBI press release touted the capture of “a man notorious in Boston and around the world for the very serious crimes he is alleged to have committed.” But as Bulger was being removed from the list, another gangster remained, a fellow whose alleged crimes made Whitey Bulger look like Ray Bolger. Meet Semion Mogilevich, an obese Ukrainian known as the “Brainy Don” who has been called “the most powerful mobster in the world.”

At first look, Mogilevich’s alleged crimes seem fairly banal. He is wanted by the FBI on various fraud charges relating to his involvement with a publicly traded industrial magnet manufacturer called YBM Magnex. Though shares in the company sold for up to $20 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, an investigation revealed that YBM did not actually make magnets, and that the company “was created for the sole purpose of committing securities fraud.” It’s a clever scheme, but hardly unprecedented in the Bernie Madoff era.

But the magnets are allegedly just the tip of the crime-berg. According to the FBI, when he’s not creating sham companies to bilk Canadian investors out of their savings, Mogilevich dabbles in “weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale.” A 1998 Village Voice profile reported that Mogilevich “controls everything that goes in and out of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.” The FBI claims that “through his extensive international criminal network, Mogilevich controls extensive natural gas pipelines in Eastern Europe, and he uses this wealth and power to not only further his criminal enterprises but to influence governments and their economies.” Oh, yes, he’s also said to deal in nuclear materials.

His likely whereabouts: This isn’t hard: Mogilevich is in Moscow. The United States can’t touch him there, because Russia doesn’t extradite to the U.S. Russia itself doesn’t seem particularly interested in going after the Brainy Don: although Mogilevich was arrested by the Russian government in 2008 on tax evasion charges, he was released soon thereafter. (Russian authorities justified Mogilevich’s release by saying that the charges against him “are not of a particularly grave nature.”) He lives out in the open, more or less, and is said to be “on good terms” with Vladimir Putin.

Prospects of catching him: Very slim. Mogilevich, allegedly, is a real-life Keyser Söze: a ruthless, fabulously wealthy international crime boss who is shielded from arrest by his money and contacts, with an occasional assist from his right-hand man, Pete Postlethwaite. He’ll only ever be caught if he falls out of favor with the Russian government (it could happen), or if he for some reason decides to leave Russia and travel to a country that extradites fugitives to America. “If Mogilevich travels outside of Russia, we’re hoping someone will turn him in,” the FBI said. Don’t bet on it.

Most Wanted Score: The FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List was made for people like Semion Mogilevich. I’m giving him a 9.5 out of 10.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.