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Federal jury convicts Brooklyn man of kidnapping, extortion in commercial driver’s license cheating scheme

July 8, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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A federal jury in Brooklyn on Wednesday convicted Akmal Narzikulov of conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents; and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping and extortion in relation to a scheme to assist cheating by applicants for New York State commercial driver’s licenses as well as city taxi and limousine licenses.

Narzikulov was also convicted of using a firearm in connection with the charged extortion and conspiracy to commit witness tampering. The verdict followed a two-week trial before United States District Judge Brian M. Cogan.

As proven at trial, Narzikulov and other co-conspirators helped applicants for commercial driver licenses (“CDLs”) to cheat on tests administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles in exchange for cash.

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Using wireless communication devices hidden inside the applicants’ clothing, Narzikulov’s co-conspirators transmitted the correct answers to earbuds used by the applicants as they took written exams at various DMV locations.

For example, after making the illicit payment to the defendant and his co-conspirators, the license applicant was provided a T-shirt with a tiny hole cut out in the middle. A smartphone was attached inside the shirt with the camera aimed through the hole so the co-conspirators could view the test questions and send the answers to the applicant.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Photo courtesy of Justice Dept. EDNY

The defendant and his co-conspirators used the same method to assist applicants in cheating on written tests required to obtain licenses from the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

On March 28, 2019 in Brooklyn, Narzikulov, co-defendant Sherzod Mukumov and an unapprehended co-conspirator kidnapped an individual who had withdrawn from the cheating scheme. Surveillance video showed the victim being shocked and subdued with a taser, then being dragged to a waiting car by Narzikulov and the co-conspirator.

On the same night as the kidnapping, Narzikulov threatened another co-conspirator at gunpoint in an attempt to extort money from him and the victim, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As charged in the second superseding indictment, Narzikulov offered thousands of dollars to key witnesses against him to travel overseas and remain there until after the trial was over.

When Narzikulov was arrested in April 2019, FBI special agents recovered a 9mm handgun, approximately $300,000 in cash and numerous identification documents belonging to other individuals from inside a closet in the defendant’s apartment.

In November 2019, Mukumov pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and is awaiting sentencing. In January 2020, Jasur Kamolov pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce false identification documents and is awaiting sentencing.

In November 2020, Murodjon Sultanov pleaded guilty to witness tampering and was sentenced in April 2021 to a term of 24 months’ imprisonment. In May 2021, Firuz Juraev pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act extortion conspiracy and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and is awaiting sentencing.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the verdict.

Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis said, “I commend our prosecutors for laying out the detailed road map that led to today’s verdict and for bringing justice to the individuals who were harmed by the defendant’s greed and senseless violence.”

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Public Integrity Section. Assistant United States Attorney Turner Buford and Special Assistant United States Attorney Virginia Nguyen are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from paralegal Shivani Parshad.

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