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18 Sep, 2021 15:37

Boxer who copped 10yr sentence for alleged role in crime gang from former Soviet Union ‘will be released from US prison next week’

Boxer who copped 10yr sentence for alleged role in crime gang from former Soviet Union ‘will be released from US prison next week’

A Georgian ex-world champion boxer who was given a whopping 10-year sentence in prison for his alleged part in a crime syndicate in 2018 could be released next week after having his sentence drastically reduced, a report says.

Middleweight Avtandil Khurtsidze was on the brink of challenging former Canelo Alvarez opponent Billy Joe Saunders when he was arrested on suspicion of operating as part of an alleged criminal network referred to as 'The Shulaya Enterprise'.

At the time of the arrests, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) described the syndicate as a group operating under the direction and protection of Razhden Shulaya, a man said to have been known by various Russian phrases roughly translating as “thief-in-law” or “thief".

The group was accused of having "substantial influence in the criminal underworld" including acts of violence, extortion, illegal gambling businesses, fraud on casinos, identity theft, credit card fraud and stolen goods trafficking.

A total of 26 men were arrested, most of whom were born in the former Soviet Union and had "substantial ties" to Georgia, Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

Now Khurtsidze, who was allegedly caught on camera participating in acts of extortion of gambling debts and planned additional acts of violence, has had his hefty sentence slashed to time served plus one week followed by two years of supervised release, according to Boxing Scene.

Despite reportedly being described as a model inmate by the Bureau of Prisons records, Khurtsidze appears to have had a traumatic time inside, suffering 'multiple hematomas and stab wounds' when he was said to have been attacked in the face alongside Shulaya in a gruesome incident involving an alleged rival Latin gang in 2018.

Khurtsidze's charges reportedly also included conspiring to defraud one of the casinos allegedly targeted by the syndicate.

“We are happy with the outcome – a sentence that is commensurate with the underlying offenses and the sentences imposed on the many co-defendants in this case," an attorney for Khurtsidze, Megan Benett, is quoted to have told the report by email.

"[It is a] sentence that also reflects Avtandil’s commendable adjustment to incarceration over the past four years."

With the exception of Shulaya, who is said to have received 45 years, none of the convicted men are said to have received as long a sentence as the one copped by Khurtsidze.

Now 44, Khurtsidze reportedly does not hold a US visa and could be deported to Georgia. Some outlets are said to have suggested that he wants to resume his boxing career, in which he racked up 33 wins and 22 knockouts from 35 fights.

“We aren’t sure what will happen on the immigration front," said Benett. "But he should, at the very least, be released from the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons next week."

Other charges leveled at the alleged syndicate by the DoJ including operating illicit poker business, theft of cargo shipments – one of which is said to have contained around $14,000 of chocolate sweets – plans to bribe local law enforcement and the movement and sale of untaxed cigarettes.

The department also alleged that a female member of the syndicate was deployed to "seduce men, incapacitate them with gas and then rob them".

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