A woman was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Wednesday for her role in a kidnapping scheme in which five wealthy Russian immigrants were killed and their bodies dumped in a reservoir near Yosemite National Park.
Authorities said Natalya Solovyeva lured one of the victims to a Los Angeles bar, where he was abducted and then forced to contact another man who was also kidnapped.
Solovyeva was the girlfriend of Jurijus Kadamovas, 40, one of two men sentenced to death in the case. Two other men were sent to federal prison.
Prosecutors sought only 11 years for Solovyeva, pointing out that she had cooperated in two previous trials. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero, however, noted that she had been promised a new BMW if she aided the kidnappings, and that two men would "probably be alive today" had she not taken part.
Solovyeva, 32, had pleaded guilty to two counts of hostage-taking resulting in death and one conspiracy charge. During the sentencing hearing, she looked intently at Otero as she listened on headphones to a Russian translation of the proceedings.
"I would like to say over and over again how sorry I am for what I did. I am sorry for all the victims," she said in English before being sentenced. "I know I made a terrible choice I will regret for all my life."
Victims killed after paid ransom
The victims were killed in 2001 and 2002, even though their families and friends gave the kidnappers $1.2 million. Prosecutors said the kidnappers used the money buy new vehicles and to buy mink coats for their girlfriends.
Ruven Umansky, the father of victim Alexander Umansky, said his son was killed even after he had paid a ransom of $234,628.
"I disagree with the government in their assessment of her honesty," Umansky said of Solovyeva.
Prosecutor Susan DeWitt told the judge that Solovyeva had been controlled and manipulated by Kadamovas. The two had a child together.
Solovyeva, a native of Siberia, had faced a possible sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.