Ex-Beach officer sentenced in immigration fraud case
By Tim McGlone
© May 5, 2010
A former Virginia Beach police officer, called a "dirty cop" by prosecutors, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison after admitting his role in a massive marriage and immigration fraud case.
But Andrey Savelyev, 41, a Russian native who became a naturalized U.S. citizen, didn't go down without a fight.
"Your Honor, I could go on and on about what happened to my family and me for the last 10 months - the politics, the pressure, the threats," Savelyev told a judge. "I would like to ask you to consider not to take me away from my family."
U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar denied the request, but he did spare Savelyev an extra few months that federal prosecutors had asked for.
Savelyev admitted that he became involved in a fraudulent marriage between a Russian woman and a Navy sailor after the sailor tried to get out of the deal. Court records say that Savelyev, while on duty, flashed his badge to the sailor and threatened him with arrest if he did not stay in the marriage.
Prosecutors linked the case to a massive $40 million conspiracy involving immigration, marriage and employment fraud, tying Savel-yev directly to the group's now-convicted ring leader.
Savelyev also admitted previously to lying to the FBI and other authorities about his role in the fraud, but on Tuesday denied those lies.
"I did not lie to the FBI," he told the judge. "All my life I've been and still am a law- abiding citizen and for the last 10 years I was serving and protecting people's lives here and abroad."
Savelyev served on the Virginia Beach police force from 1999 until his arrest last year. He last served as a detective in the 3rd Precinct before resigning.
His court-appointed lawyers, Mark Del Duca and Lawrence H. Woodward Jr., did not respond to questions after the proceeding.
Last month, Savelyev tried to withdraw his earlier guilty plea, but Doumar denied the request. Then Del Duca tried to withdraw from the case, citing "a complete breakdown" in the attorney-client relationship. Doumar then appointed Woodward.
Doumar allowed Savelyev to remain free on bond and to self- report to the federal prison he will be assigned to on or before June 9. The judge said he had concerns about putting the former officer inside a local jail until he's assigned to a prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph DePadilla had initially asked for a 2-1/2-year prison term, citing Savel-yev's lies, obstruction of justice, abuse of trust, and failure to take responsibility for his actions.
Doumar granted only part of the request, and sentenced the former office to the mid-range of federally recommended guidelines.