Bryant accuser threat charge dropped
LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors dropped charges of solicitation to commit murder against a man who allegedly offered to kill Kobe Bryant’s accuser, after he pleaded no contest Monday to one charge of grand theft, the district attorney’s office said.
Patrick Graber, 31, entered his plea before Superior Court Judge Katherine Mader. He faces up to three years in state prison when he is sentenced May 13.
In exchange, prosecutors dropped one count each of solicitation to commit murder and solicitation to dissuade a witnesses, said Deputy District Attorney Marguerite Rizzo.
“He’s lucky to get it, because it was the best deal of his life,” defense attorney Peter Knecht said. “He was facing 15 years. He’ll do 18 months, and he’s already done six months.”
Knecht said Graber, who is from Switzerland, will likely be deported after he is released.
Graber has been held on $2 million bail since his arrest.
He had pleaded innocent in October to allegations that he offered to kill the Colorado woman who brought rape allegations against Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star.
Graber was arrested Sept. 18 during a meeting with undercover sheriff’s investigators. The sting was set up after Bryant’s security staff reported receiving a letter Sept. 8 from someone who claimed to have ties to the Russian mafia and offered to solve Bryant’s problem. Graber allegedly sought $3 million to carry out the plan.
Graber was seized as he reached for a bag filled with phony money that was brought by the detectives.
Graber’s lawyer said a jury could have found him guilty of grand theft even though the bills were fake, thus the plea of no contest.
The investigation showed Graber had no ties to Russian organized crime but had been convicted of fraud and theft in Switzerland. It also revealed that Graber, a bodybuilder, conned a woman he met at a gym out of hundreds of thousands of dollars last year, Knecht said.
The latter case surfaced after Graber was already in custody but was dropped as part of the plea. He does, however, face a May 13 restitution hearing involving that case.
“His main goal was to get money,” Rizzo said. ‘We felt this was an appropriate plea in this case.”
The defense attorney agreed.
“My position all along was that he wasn’t trying to solicit to commit murder, he was trying to con Kobe Bryant out of $1 million bucks,” Knecht said. “He’s not a violent guy. He just pretended he was Russian mafia.”