Southern Brooklyn

Rasputin Owner Michael Levitis Pleads Not Guilty To Fraud Charges, Claims He’s A Victim

Levitis (Source: Facebook)

Rasputin owner and Russian Dolls co-star Michael Levitis pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy and was released on $1 million bail after his indictment yesterday. But, more interestingly, Levitis claims he’s a victim of government neglect who had tried to tip off authorities to malfeasance by “rogue employees.” He said he was ignored.

This nugget from the New York Times has all you need to know:

Mr. Levitis, who was charged with conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud, pleaded not guilty and was released on $1 million bond. His lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said by phone that his client had known about the investigation for several months, had cooperated fully and had tried to provide information to the government about certain employees he believed were responsible for wrongdoing. Mr. Lichtman said his client was ignored.

“The frustrating part about this is we repeatedly attempted to present evidence to the government that there were rogue employees that were working at Mission and were engaging in the sort of fraud that we now see in the indictment,” Mr. Lichtman said.

“We’re prepared to fight it to the end,” he added.

The Times also notes that the investigation into Mission Settlement Agency and Michael Levitis was aided by undercover agents and a cooperating witness who posed as a customer.

As we first reported yesterday, Levitis is alleged to be the ringleader of a fraud scheme, in which a company he controlled – Mission Settlement Agency – preyed on debt-laden victims. The company claimed to reduce a client’s debt to creditors and make payments on their behalf. In reality, prosecutors say, the company collected fees and did little or nothing to help clients, and Levitis used the fees to pay operating expenses at Rasputin Restauraunt, lease two luxury Mercedes and pay off his mother’s credit card bills.

Prosecutors have filed to seize approximately 40 bank accounts connected to Levitis, as well as Rasputin Restaurant and two properties he owns in Manhattan Beach. The assets would be used to pay back his victims if Levitis is found guilty.

Levitis and three other co-conspirators face 20 years in prison for each charge. Two additional employees were charged, pleaded guilty, and are aiding the investigation.

His attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, has represented high-profile clients including John Gotti, Jr., and rappers The Game and Fat Joe.

Comment policy


  1. I hope this sack of shit rots in hell, and gets raped every moment of the day. He does not deserve to ever see the light of day. Him, his wife, and that entire family should be damned. That disgusting smirk on his face makes me sick. Goes to show that someone with money can still be a low life. I find it amusing when Russians say they made it in America, when in fact they cheated the system, which is quite the opposite of ‘making it in America’.

  2. AMAN !!! Couldnt said it better mysellf. He’s leing all the way !..
    He knows what was going inside and was aware of everything. God what lier 100% Guilty !! i was a victim of his and i lost everything .. he is an ugly sob and so is his overweight wife if you can call her that. I spit at them.

  3. If veteran mob lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman was involved in Levitis’ alleged relationship with the feds from the beginning, then he should have no trouble documenting and proving his claims. But this wouldn’t be the first time (and surely not the last) that members of organized and otherwise white collar criminal conspiracies have worked both sides of the street, using their double agency, and even the Witness Protection Program, as cover for their continuing shenanigans.

    The allegations against Levitis are symptomatic of a much larger problem in which immigrants, naturalized or not, are allowed to milk the system, violate our laws, and get filthy rich off of the freedoms for which they fled their homeland, allegedly as “refugees,” and then, when the slap-on-the-wrist punishments usually lavished on white collar criminals, and the restoration of any professional licenses, is insufficient to humble them before the rule of law, they recidivate.
    Yes, Mr. Levitis is entitled to his day in court, but, if convicted, he and the others of his alleged ilk should follow the example imposed on Bernie Madoff or, after repaying American society for their abuse of its hospitality, be deported back to where they came from and rightfully belong.

  4. Mr. Kent, this country was built on the backs of immigrants. Immigrants are not the cause nor are they the solution to the problem.. remember Bernie Madoff? greed knows no gender and ethnicity… to blame immigrants is irresponsible at best and ignorant at worst.

  5. Sounds fishy to me. He tried to tip off authorities about “rogue employees”. He probably found out that he was under investigation and tried to make himself look innocent while ratting out all employees. He was the owner of the company. What do you mean he didn’t know their intent nor couldn’t stop it?

  6. I believe that people who don’t know Russians shouldn’t judge everyone by this example. Most of us have “Made it in America” by going to school and getting somewhere or being smart about business using experience we have from our work in the Soviet Union. People who make such grand assumptions to an entire population are obviously ignorant. The victims of this crime will get their justice, and the rest of us hard working people will do just that, work hard. Hope those who are dissing the Russians learn what hard work means, maybe then they can make their own money and not be bitter about those who are successful immigrants.

  7. If you are referring to the comment I made previously, sulk no further, I am of USSR origin, yet I resent every aspect of it. Including being associated with Russians like Michael Levitis. There are plenty of USSR immigrants who ‘made it in America’ without racketeering and fraud, but as far as anyone is concerned, that is not the case in Oceana/Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach. 95% of the Russians there that own property, bathe in Louis Vuitton and drive German have in one shape or form defrauded the government (or its constituents.)

  8. And EducatedRussian, to bring light on your discrepancy, I too am on my way to receiving a graduate school education, to enter a field of work most of Oceana/Manhattan Beach can relate to, except, I am doing it for all the right reasons.

  9. leave the Oceana alone. its so stupid to say ” all who live in oceana are robbers” i do live in oceana. and i work fuckinf hard for it, cause no condo is better by the ocean in this area. so, please avoid to say that ALL russians who live there are cheating the system

  10. Take the Oceana back to your country. You cant convince me. If you walk like a duck. ……Your a duck.
    Show me a true real russian. I can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

  11. At least all the Russians who came here to take advantage of the education system will know the difference between your and you’re. More than can be said about you.

  12. Actually most of these people who you talk about are Jews from the Soviet Union. NOT RUSSIANS.

  13. Lichtman said his client cooperated with the investigation — not cooperated with the feds. Two totally different things. If you read the article carefully it’s clear he wasn’t trying to be a cooperating witness.

  14. Do not believe everything you read or hear in mass media regarding crime and punishment. So called investigaing agents will do anything and evrything, including lying under oath before grand jury and fabricating evidence in order to get an indictments ad arrests, because thats how they get ahead in their careers. Last I heard, this country is all about “innocet untill proven guilty” not the other way aroud!

  15. This BOp (Russian for thief.) should be convicted with all of his assets liquidated to reimburse the victims he robbed. That would send a message to those who come here “with the playbook” which gives them tips on how to cheat our system here, that we will find you, convict you and take away the wealth you’ve accumulated in a fraudulent manner.

  16. I said 95% of Oceana. You may or may not be part of that exclusive 5% group. Criminal activities are so ingrained into Russian DNA, that you might be oblivious to the fact that your prostitution ring, and child pornography business is in fact illegal.

  17. “OCEANAgivesRUSSIANSaBADname” I feel sorry for you. You are just a jealous kid who never made it there. Instead of making the whole Russian community look like thief on this forum why don’t you try harder to achieve something yourself. You are pathetic to be saying that 95% of people living there are thiefs, I live there and I earned it with higher education and just pure sweat. You are just a jealous little kid who never could make it….

  18. But wait! They’re not really Russians, they are Russian-speaking Jews, which makes a really big difference.

    That’s funny, because Boston bombers aren’t Russian too (despite how the press is trying to spin it), they’re Chechens. Russia and Chechnya are geographically like US and Puerto Rico, but ideologically like US and Libya.

    Educate yourselves and don’t blame Russians.

  19. Yeah come on guys, lets not forget to focus specifically on the person’s ethnicity as the source of blame and not their country of origin. We don’t want to stereotype the wrong group.

    I mean we’re going to stereotype and say negative things anyway, the least we can do is talk crap about the right people.

    Oh by the way, those people aren’t Russian, yes its true but they’re not Jews either.

  20. The purpose of my post for those who didn’t get it is to say that stereotyping is wrong but you all have taken it to another level with your discrepancies of no they’re not this, or that, they’re this thing.

    It’s bad enough that when stuff like this happens, the discriminators come out of the woodwork saying that whatever group these individuals are supposed to represent are all terrible people. It’s worse when someone else comes around and says ‘wait a minute guys, they’re not this, they’re that. So lets please shift the blame to the group where it belongs’

  21. I’m sure this story will disappear into the Sheepsheadbites abyss much like the No-Fault fraud arrests of “Fat Mike”, “Skinny Mike” and the other fraudsters who were arrested in Feb 28 2012. So how much does one have to pay Ned to remove stories from this site?


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