Jailed for six years with no trial

February 27, 2013 3:25:41 PM PST
A man was behind bars for six years. He was arrested for a financial crime, and all these years later, he's still waiting for his trial.

Even Bernie Madoff of the $50 Billion Ponzi scheme was granted bail, but not Vadim Vassilenko who has sat in prison for six years waiting for a trial on money laundering charges.

Now after a victory in New York's Supreme Court, he may soon be free.

"I didn't kill anyone, I had a business," Vassilenko said.

Nearly a year has gone by since Eyewitness News last spoke to Vadim Vassilenko.

Eyewitness News went back recently to the Manhattan Detention Center to talk to him after New York's highest court ruled there was no proof his cyber check cashing business had been involved in enterprise corruption.

It was an appeals process that took nearly six-years during which Vassilenko has been held without bail, only for the heart of the prosecution's case to be tossed out.

"You say here's the big case, Vadim Vassilenko created this gang this cyber crime gang, he did this, he did that, and at the end of the day it's not what they say. It's an embarrassment and they spent $400,000 spent on my pre-trial detention and hundreds and thousands for investigation," Vassilenko said.

With the most serious charge dismissed, the court made a deal with Vassilenko .

He pled guilty to money laundering charges connected to a scheme which helped others secretly traffic in stolen credit card data.

In exchange, he will soon be released for time served, six years.

"There are many people accused of violent crimes even plead guilty to violent crimes that served less time than he's serving right now," said Rick Pasacreta, Vassilenko's public defender.

Vassilenko's years of imprisonment with no trial stands in stark contrast to the recent money laundering case of British banking giant HSBC.

Despite accusations of laundering Mexican drug money and Saudi money tied to terrorists, no charges were filed, not a single banker spent a day in jail.

A hefty fine was paid, case closed.

The inequity in the American justice system has been a tough lesson to learn for the Ukrainian-born Vassilenko.

"They have known from day one that this appeal will take four, five years, and as it eventually did. And they knew that the constitutional issue regarding the speedy trial and they took that gamble and they lost it," Vassilenko said.

The District Attorney's office says it has no comment on this case.

It is expected that later this week, Vassilenko will be released for time served on the remaining money laundering charges.

There is an order of deportation which Vassilenko says he welcomes since he just wants to go back to Ukraine and move on with his life.


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