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UFC vet released on bail after being arrested as part of ‘Russian crime syndicate’

UFC veteran Levan Makashvili has been released on bail after being arrested on suspicion of being part of a Russian crime syndicate in New York. 

UFC Fight Night: Jackson v Makashvili Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

A New York court has granted bail to Georgian UFC veteran Levan Makashvili, who was arrested on suspicion of being a member of a Russian crime syndicate in New York.

According to the US Justice Department, which released a press release announcing the arrest of 33 criminals in a crackdown effort, unsealed documents showed that Makashvili was charged with racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud “in connection with their plot to defraud casinos through the use of electronic devices and software designed to predict the behavior of particular models of electronic ‘slot’ machines, thereby removing the element of chance from play of those machines.”

According to the press release, Makashvili was arrested in connection to the Shulaya Enterprise, an “organized criminal group operating under the direction and protection of Razhden Shulaya.” It added that Shulaya had “substantial influence in the criminal underworld and offered assistance to and protection of the members and associates of the Shulaya Enterprise. Those members and associates, and SHULAYA himself, engaged in widespread criminal activities, including acts of violence, extortion, the operation of illegal gambling businesses, fraud on various casinos, identity theft, credit card frauds, and trafficking of large quantities of stolen goods.”

Interestingly, the New York court decided to grant Makashvili bail, though not to Avtandil Khurtsidze, who was supposed to compete in a WBO middleweight title fight in July. Khurtsidze has been charged with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), as well as conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

As for Makashvili, the former UFC fighter is still scheduled to face Rasul Mirzaev at a Fight Nights event in August.

"Levan is free. He returned to his family. All is well,” said Makashvili’s wife. “He is feeling very well."