Southern Brooklyn

Rasputin Owner, Kruger Croney Sentenced And Fined

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Michael Levitis Marina Levitis Rasputin Brighton Beach Show
Michael and Marina Levitis (Source: James Edstrom)

Rasputin (2670 Coney Island Avenue) co-owner Michael Levitis was sentenced to three years probation and fined $15,000 for lying to FBI agents about a bribe intended for State Senator Carl Kruger.

Levitis was arrested last summer for his alleged role as an intermediary between business owners wanting help from the politician, and was recorded telling another restaurateur that he needed to throw a fundraiser in Kruger’s behalf in return for assistance on an official business inspection. The businessman agreed to give Levitis $3,000, with $2,000 going to pay off Jason Koppel, Kruger’s chief of staff and campaign treasurer. He plead guilty in February and faced a maximum of six months in prison.

The sentencing comes about a week before Levitis’ debut on Russian Dolls, the Brighton Beach reality series dubbed the Russian Jersey Shore. Sheepshead Bites was the first to reveal that Levitis and his wife, Marina, would be a central character in the show, a fact that is giving pause to some Russian leaders.

The New York Post is pointing to the couple as one of the more embarrassing aspects of the show:

The most cringe-worthy moment in the first episode of “Russian Dolls” doesn’t come from a sexual escapade, however. It comes from blonde Marina Levitis, co-owner of a nightclub, who cruelly mocks her mother-in-law Eva for taking part in a talent contest for grandmothers. “Stupid thing went on forever,” Marina sneers, adding: “It was never-ending torture.”

Eva, 56, later goes on to win first prize for the most talented grandma — even though her family deserts her at the scene. Raisa Chernina, organizer of the contest, says of Marina, “She pretends to be in high society. She is nobody. She is nobody.” (SEE UPDATE BELOW)

Of course, Chernina did actually sign a release to be featured on the show. “Unfortunately,” she explains, “we have people like this, they are existing. I was embarrassed.”

As for Carl Kruger, he may have dodged prosecution in the case involving Levitis, but he’s been having problems of his own. He was hit with a slew of corruption charges in March, threatening to end his political career and put him behind bars. He has pleaded not guilty, along with seven other defendants, in what federal prosecutors describe as a “broad-based bribery racket” that saw the state senator paid to peddle the interests of real estate and health care execs. It was recently revealed that the pol may have funneled some of his bribes through a hospice center he had a stake in. Feds brought official charges against Kruger shortly after Levitis took a plea deal, lending some credence to observers’ suspicion that Levitis turned evidence against the state senator.

UPDATE (5:26 p.m.): Raisa Chernina, quoted above by the New York Post, got in touch with us to say that the above was a misquote by the New York Post. In actuality, she said, she was quoting a line from the show said by Marina about her mother-in-law. Apologies for any confusion.

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