Everyone’s heard the horror stories of terrible divorces, but one Upper East Side man’s family has taken the concept to an unexpected level.
Oleg Mitnik, 46, was nearly the victim of a hitman hired by his father-in-law, a plot that was ultimately foiled by the hitman himself when he proposed a counteroffer to Oleg to spare his life.
The father-in-law, Anatoly Potik, 67, seems to have wanted to save his daughter, Ronit Potik Mitnik, 42, from the strain of litigating her nasty, $20 million divorce, so he offered to pay mob-connected hitman Boris Nayfeld $100,000 to kill Oleg.
As murder-for-hire schemes go, this one actually has some things to recommend it.
Oleg isn’t exactly your run of the mill New York City emigre.
He’s a businessman and shipping magnate who owns TRT International, a freight shipping company based in Newark.
A source told Page Six, “Oleg has what’s been purported to be hundreds of millions of dollars sitting overseas and doesn’t want to give that up in the divorce.”
That action has been ongoing since 2014 and has already stretched into the Appellate Division, with no end in sight for Oleg or Ronit, who are currently fighting over the custody of their teenage children.
Oleg also has an $8 million life insurance policy in his name.
Put it all together and it’s easy to see how a certain type of person might evaluate the situation and decide that Oleg is worth a lot more dead than alive.
The story first broke at the beginning of 2016, when tabloids ran a strange story about a hit man who’d tried to double his money by playing his client and his victim off of each other.
Nayfeld, 69, has been described as a Brighton Beach mob boss, and has copped to accepting a $50,000 down payment from Potik, the father-in-law, to kill Oleg.
It was half of their agreed price.
An associate of Nayfeld, Boris Kotlyarsky, had an idea when he heard the contours of the deal.
He called Oleg and told him of the plan, offering to have the hit cancelled for the low, low price of $125,000. Kotlyarsky is reported to have told Oleg that if he “came to an agreement with the hitman, then the hitman would not take Potik’s money and would instead tell Potik to get lost.”
Assuming adequate resources, what would you do in this situation?
Probably more or less what Oleg did. The next day, Oleg headed to a Brooklyn restaurant to dine with Nayfeld and work out the details.
Oleg wrote out a check for $50,000, with another $75,000 to come, and Nayfeld came through, as promised.
A week later, Oleg’s father-in-law got a call from his hitman, who told him, “Forget about your son-in-law. I intend to get everything to the last penny from you.”
This statement is in court records, because the following day, both Nayfeld and Kotlyarsky were rounded up by federal agents on extortion charges.
Potik was located and arrested at JFK Airport with his wife as they tried to flee the country.
Ronit, trying to fix the problem, allegedly told Oleg that she would consider a divorce settlement proposal from him if he would tell law enforcement that he’d made the whole thing up.
It turns out that Oleg’s Brooklyn meal hadn’t just lightened his wallet, it had also prompted him to make a call to the FBI.
He hadn’t shared with Ronit that he was cooperating with federal cops to shut her father down, but he did believe he had figured out the specifics of what prompted Potik to hire the killer.
Oleg had apparently decided to remove Ronit as the beneficiary of the $8 million life insurance policy, which seems to have made Potik believe that there was a clock on taking meaningful action against his soon-to-be former (and possibly deceased) son-in-law.
Given the sequence of events and the FBI’s timing in shutting it down, it might seem like the case against Potik would be smooth sailing, but in fact, the opposite was true.
In June, a district court judge in New York dismissed the charges.
Ronit posited to the media that Oleg made up the plot for leverage in the divorce. A divorce judge certainly wouldn’t smile on a family threatening the man who was divorcing its daughter.
Others speculated that Oleg had been taken advantage of in a scheme intended to con him out of the $125,000 he promised to the would-be assassins.
Subsequent events suggest that there was more to the murder-for-hire plot than a mere diversion in a difficult divorce case.
In October 2016, Nayfeld, alleged to have a history of heroin trafficking, was hauled into Manhattan federal court to sign a plea agreement he’d hammered out with federal prosecutors in front of a judge.
Nayfeld consented to cooperating with the FBI and testify in cases related to Russian mobsters active in the New York area.
He is still facing up to 40 years for the plot against Oleg and then for extorting money from Oleg, but told the court that his co-conspirator, Kotlyarsky, had told him that Oleg was a good guy, and that if he told Oleg about the contract out on his life, that Oleg would pay him.
The wholesale flipping of everyone involved in the effort to have him killed has left Oleg in a bit of a bind.
He and Ronit are still battling each other in state court over the custody of their kids.
He recently sent a letter to Manhattan federal judge Alvin Hellerstein complaining that he continues to live in fear of his father-in-law after the FBI dropped the charges against him.
“I cannot sleep, I take different routes to and from my home and work, my personal and family relationships have been harmed,” he told the judge, according to the New York Post.
As it stands, Potik’s charges were reduced to merely failing to report an extortion, which could lead to his serving between 4 and 10 months in federal prison.
There’s no word on when, or whether, Oleg will finally be able to sleep again and live a normal life, or when his divorce from Ronit will finally reach its end.
However bizarre your divorce may or may not be, it’s vital that you have the right kind of help when your marriage in Brooklyn is coming to an end.
The attorneys at Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino have the resources and perspective to take care of what’s most important to you in a divorce.
Call 718-725-9601 today and talk to an experienced Brooklyn divorce lawyer for free.