LawFuel.com – LOS ANGELES – A Sherman Oaks man has pleaded guilty to solicitation of murder, admitting that he was willing to pay to a hitman to kill an informant working with federal investigators who were looking into a bank fraud scheme.
Pavel Valkovich, 28, pleaded guilty late yesterday, which was the first day of his trial in United States District Court. Valkovich pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation to commit murder, a charge that could bring him a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison. Valkovich admitted he wanted the hitmen to use a silencer and to kill the informant in a drive-by shooting.
Earlier this year, Valkovich pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud, a charge stemming from the investigation where special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were working the informant Valkovich wanted killed.
In 2008, ICE opened an investigation into Valkovich’s involvement in a bank fraud scheme in which Valkovich and others had stolen personal identifying information and used that information to transfer funds from victims’ bank accounts to PayPal accounts. During the execution of a search warrant at Valkovich’s residence late last year after Valkovich attempted to transfer $440,000 from one victim’s bank account, Valkovich attempted to flee by jumping from the roof of his apartment complex onto another building. Valkovich was arrested on bank fraud charges at that time and has been in custody for nearly one year.
Following his arraignment on the bank fraud charges, Valkovich approached another individual and proposed that they kill the informant, who Valkovich learned had provided the information that led to his arrest. Valkovich said all that was needed was a “pic and ten” – a picture of the informant and $10,000 – to have the informant killed. Valkovich also discussed coaching a witness to lie at his upcoming trial by claiming that the informant provided the witness with drugs, made improper sexual advances and planted evidence.
When authorities learned of Valkovich’s plot to kill the informant, he was charged for that offense and transferred to a jail facility in San Bernardino County. Once there, Valkovich approached another individual and asked him to kill both the original informant and the individual Valkovich had approached regarding the original murder scheme. Valkovich promised this man $40,000 in exchange for killing both men and provided information on the planned victims’ appearance, residences, and cars. Valkovich directed that one victim be shot and have his head cut off.
Valkovich pleaded guilty in relation to the first murder-for-hire scheme.
Valkovich is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Percy Anderson on February 22. At that time, Valkovich faces a statutory maximum sentence of 50 years in federal prison – 20 years for the murder solicitation plot and another potential 30 years in the bank fraud case.
The cases against Valkovich were investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which received assistance from the United States Bureau of Prisons, Special Investigative Office.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer L. Williams
Assistant United States Attorney Mark C. Krause