EL SEGUNDO (California): A Swiss bodybuilder will be charged with multiple felonies for allegedly proposing a US$3mil murder-for-hire scheme to kill the Colorado woman who accused Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant of rape, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.
Charges to be filed tomorrow include four counts of solicitation to commit murder, two counts of solicitation to dissuade a witness, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and one count of obtaining money, labour or property by false pretences, according to a statement released on Friday by Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the office.
Patrick Graber, 31, a Swiss national with an expired visa, was arrested on Thursday in El Segundo after meeting with undercover sheriff's investigators and allegedly agreeing to a deal in which he would receive US$1mil up front and $2mil after the killing.
Graber, who claimed connections to organised crime, was taken into custody as he reached for a bag that was filled with phoney money, according to detectives who began their investigation after Bryant's security director reported receiving the initial solicitation in a letter.
Graber has been in the United States about two years, sheriff's Lt. Jim Taylor said. He was being held on US$1mil bail and was scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow.
Graber's lawyer, Peter Knecht, dismissed any involvement by his client in organised crime.
“Whatever happened here, this is not organised crime. It's disorganised crime,” Knecht said.
He said Graber may have been looking for money but never intended to kill anyone. Knecht, who said he was hired by Graber's family, called his client “a naive guy.”
Authorities said Graber was a bodybuilding coach at a gym.
Bryant, 25, was charged with raping a 19-year-old employee of the ritzy Lodge & Spa at Cordillera on June 30. He had said the two had consensual sex.
The alleged murder-for-hire scheme is not the first threat to Kobe Bryant's accuser. Police records show that her father has called police at least twice in recent weeks to report suspicious incidents.
Bryant's defence attorney Pamela Mackey said Bryant, his lawyers and his accuser have received multiple threats since the basketball star's arrest. – AP
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