Man charged with soliciting murder of Bryant accuser
LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors charged a Swiss bodybuilder Monday with solicitation of murder for allegedly offering to kill the woman who accused Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant of rape.
Patrick Graber, 31, also was charged with solicitation to dissuade a witness, the District Attorney’s Office said. Prosecutors recommended bail be set at $1 million.
In an appearance in Superior Court, Graber agreed to a one-week delay of his arraignment. No plea was entered and he remained in custody.
If convicted of the two felonies, he faces up to nine years and eight months in prison, the District Attorney’s Office said.
Defense attorney Peter Knecht said he needed time to see evidence and prepare a bail motion – as well as a response to the prosecution’s request for a hearing to determine the source of bail.
“”In this particular case you want to be certain that bail comes from an appropriate source,” Deputy District Attorney Ralph Shapiro said.
Graber’s wife, Gilliane, was present in court. Knecht said she is a U.S. citizen.
Outside court, Knecht described Graber as “”a little bit naive and not very swift. … He is not the most intelligent guy in the world.”
Graber was arrested Thursday in suburban El Segundo by undercover sheriff’s investigators who set up a sting at a supermarket parking lot.
Detectives said Graber wanted $3 million to carry out the plan and had arranged to pick up a $1 million payment. Investigators had filled a bag with prop money used in making movies.
The investigation began Sept. 8 when Bryant’s security staff reported receiving a letter offering to solve the basketball player’s problem. The letter was signed “”Yuri.” Investigators said Graber claimed to have ties to Russian organized crime.
Knecht said Graber came to the United States two years ago hoping to become an actor, but was working as a trainer in a gym and recently was certified as a helicopter pilot. His visa expired two weeks ago and immigration lawyers are working on that, Knecht said.
“”This just blew him away,” Knecht said.
He said Graber has one prior conviction, for fraud, in Switzerland.
Bryant, 25, was charged with sexual assault after a 19-year-old Eagle woman accused him of rape during his June stay at the mountain resort where she worked. Bryant has said the two had consensual sex.