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Kobozev's death linked to Russian mob

2/25/2005

NEW YORK -- A fugitive wanted for the 1995
murder of professional Russian-born boxer Sergei Kobozev, whose bones were later found in a suburban New Jersey backyard, has been arrested and was presented in federal court on Friday.

Natan Gozman, whom authorities say is a member of the
Russian mob, pleaded not guilty to the charges during a brief
hearing in Manhattan federal court. He was ordered held without
bail.

Prosecutors said Gozman was arrested Thursday afternoon
in Poland and was then flown to New York.

He had been indicted in 2000 on racketeering charges that
included the kidnapping and murder of Kobozev, a Russian emigre
who vanished from Brooklyn in 1995.

At the time of his disappearance, the 31-year-old Kobozev was a U.S.
Boxing Association cruiserweight champion. He was only months
away from what would have been his biggest bout: a $100,000
shot at the World Boxing Council's cruiserweight title.

He was a former member of the Soviet national boxing team
and had immigrated to the United States in 1990.

Federal agents discovered his remains in March 1999 while
digging in the Livingston, N.J., backyard of a high-ranking
member of a Russian organized crime group, prosecutors said.

The indictment alleged that Gozman, who was charged along
with two other defendants, killed the boxer to increase his
position in a Russian organized crime group known as "Tatarin's
Brigade" or "Bratva," which prosecutors said is Russian for
brotherhood or good fellows.

The Brigade operated in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
Maryland and other locations, prosecutors said.

Kobozev's remains were found after a team of nearly two
dozen chemists, dentists and engineers spent several days
digging through soil in the New Jersey backyard based on a tip
received by the FBI. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow was then
enlisted to obtain the boxer's dental and medical X-rays.