Michael Levitis Marina Levitis Rasputin Brighton Beach Show

Michael and Marina Levitis (Source: James Edstrom)

Rasputin Restaurant owner and Russian Dolls co-star Michael Levitis, and three others, were charged with fraud this morning, as prosecutors claim they operated a debt settlement company that swindled more than 1,200 people out of a total of millions of dollars

The offices of Mission Settlement Agency at 2713 Coney Island Avenue, (Source: Google Maps)

Levitis, who owns Mission Settlement Agency at 2713 Coney Island Avenue in addition to Rasputin, was charged with mail and wire fraud along with three employees: Denis Kurlyand, its vice president of sales; Boris Shulman, a sales representative; and Manuel Cruz, an employee who assisted with customer solicitation.

(UPDATE: Prosecutors are moving to seize Levitis’ properties. Additionally, two other co-conspirators were identified and have already pleaded guilty.)

Prosecutors say that Mission Settlement Agency claimed to help customers struggling with credit card and bank debt by helping them reach settlements that could cut the amount owed. But the company “systematically exploited and defrauded” customer, the criminal complaint says, by charging fees without ever rendering services.

Mission also served as the middle man, collecting payments from customers that were supposed to be passed on to those they owed. Instead, the indictment says, from mid-2009 to March 2013, about 2,200 customers paid nearly $14 million, of which only $4.4 million went to the creditors.

The company kept $6.6 million for itself as fees. As many as 1,200 of the clients paid $2.2 million in fees without “a single penny” reaching their creditors.

Meanwhile, Levitis used the remaining funds as his personal piggy bank, directing some of it to pay his own debts on Rasputin Restaurant (2670 Coney Island Avenue), as well as to lease two luxury Mercedes cars. He did also manage to pay down the credit card debt of his mother, Eva, who owned the company on paper, the Post reports.

According to the indictment, as part of his sales pitch, Levitis touted an affiliation with the federal government and one of the three leading credit bureaus in the U.S., relationships that prosecutors say was all smoke.

It’s not the first time Levitis has claimed a government relationship he may not have had.

Back in 2010, Levitis was charged with lying to federal agents after he got caught up in a bribery case involving former State Senator Carl Kruger.

Levitis told a fellow nightclub owner, who was secretly recording the conversation for the FBI, that he had an inside line to the state pol, and could assist him with a liquor license issue if he steered thousands of dollars to Kruger – with a kickback for Levitis’ role in setting it up.

As the case moved forward, Levitis’ claim that he had influence in Kruger’s office began to unravel, and Levitis, who is also an attorney, later pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents, sentenced to three years probation and fined $15,000.

In April, Levitis was also hit with a six month suspension of his license to practice law – retroactive to January 2012 – for his role in the case. According to Reuters:

The appeals court said it took into account mitigating factors presented by Levitis, including “the aberrational and unplanned nature of his misconduct,” his remorse, his cooperation with the grievance committee’s investigation and his reputation as an “ethical and honest attorney.”

Levitis, his mother and his wife, Marina, were also the co-stars of Russian Dolls, a failed Lifetime reality series canceled less than two months after its premiere.

The case against Levitis and Mission is being hailed as historic, as it’s the first criminal referral from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency established after passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010. The CFPB is also bringing civil charges against Mission, Levitis and others.

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  • NYC CIT

    Weird math in this article (and all others online): $14M collected, $4.4M went to creditors, $6.6M went to Mission. Total: $11M, what about the other $3M??

    • NYC CIT

      Guess the $3M went to the “piggybank”, just realized it…

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  • Kidnapped by Ugly H**kers…

    I think that we need to make changes to the Constitution!

    Polygamy should be made legal!

    Allahu Akbar!

  • Anon

    He deserves everything that he gets. He’s retained Jeffery Litchman as his attorney. The guy is made of some seriously tough skin and this will NOT be an easy case. Jeffery got Gotti off so we will see the plea he works out with the DA.

    Personally the guy is a total crook and I can’t even begin to describe the stories I know about him that aren’t in the news.

  • Howabout No

    Idiots. Idiots everywhere. This piece of shit, yellow journalism website is practically worse then TMZ when it comes to embellishing. If you wan’t to find the real $$$ that involved in this case, go to a credited source. Don’t believe everything you read online, this site published an article about my mom a few years back, 70% of it was complete B.S.

    • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

      Just 70%? Aww, we’ll try harder next time. Anyway, we link to an unedited copy of the indictment which is where those numbers come from. Anyone can see for themselves. I hope the US Attorney General is not also practicing “yellow journalism.”

      • Howabout No

        So you want me to believe that the information some crapy Brooklyn website has better information then the New York Post?

        • Howabout No

          **So you want me to believe that the information some crapy Brooklyn website has *is* better information then the New York Post?

          • New York Post is authoritative

            LOL what a great question. Also, I love how this person edited their original post for grammar and still wrote a sentence of this quality.

          • MrArtTuro

            My brain just burst!
            Did this person hold the NYPost up as the flagpost of journalistic integrity and quality?
            Please tell me I read it wrong.

  • NI51965

    I thought those people were shady,on the Russian Dolls show. Like the Housewives. All crooks and con artists.

  • Me Myself And I

    They have so much money. That they buy a home under their mother who is 75 to 80. Put everything under there parents name. While they collect medicaid and medicare. Their children drive mercedez. Finally. Guess they all have to move out of brighton cause they all will be investigated. I need some russian friends. So I can learn the system. Matter of fact. Ill deport myself to Russia. And come back needing help. I might want to retire and hang out on the beach. Any suggestions. HAHAHAHAHA. How pathetic they have become.

  • Me Myself And I

    Look back at history. Those who came to this country Brought something with them. Italians brought the pizza and so on and so force. You tell me what did they bring. If anything they came to take from us hardworking Americans Who support you. While I cant retire yet to collect Social Security. You are all there Collecting. I see you. Go to Avenue X. It is what it is. And Ned you can delete my message. I have alot of respect for you. For always posting the truth. We just add a little more to make everyone aware.

    • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

      “They” brought Google, among other things. Please don’t generalize.

    • Stan_LS

      “Italians brought the pizza and…” – the Cosa Nostra. Let’s not go there. When I went to high school, in the early 90′s, all the US born kids wanted to sit next to the Asian and Russian kids during tests – so they could cheat off of them. That’s what we brought.

  • Metknicks

    Gee, what a surprise a Russian involved in something shady . . .

  • wops

    italians are just mad theyre rackets are dwindling and look to the russians for a handout. the only reason nowadays the russians even involve italians in theyre work is because they feel bad and just throwin you a bone cuz they know youll do whatever they say for that bone… look back in the early 90s whenitalians from the lucchesse’s were doin hits for the russians. most famously a story involving a dispute funny enough in rasputin which this jerkoff levitis owns with 2 russians and end result.. those that know the story know the deal. the russians found the glitch with the gas tax skimming which they cut the italians in and i recall that was the number one revune stream for the italians at that time. ben siegel was a russian jew and meyer lansky was a polish jew that spoke reason, its no secret that without them 2 theyre wouldnt be an organized cosa nostra like it became and lucky luciano wouldve never ranked like he did. know your facts before you discriminate. if it wasnt for the russians even in the 20s the italians woulda stayed running numbers and strongarm food stands to pay protection money..peanuts if you ask me. we made businsesses out of garbage…literally. i.e. the carting companies. so before you go around waving your flag sit down and enjoy a slice of your pizza and stfu and just listen, you might learn something.

    • freddy numbers

      FACT: The russians made more money from 1991 to today in the U.S. versus what the italians made from 1920 to today..

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  • tony cantano

    I grew up on AVE X..i know this guy mike…they have to deport him and his materialist wife. They are as currpupt as the day is long..send them back to crawl under the rock in that crap hole ukraine …I’ so happy i live somewhere else now..id say 90% of the jewish russians are scamming in one one or another..food stamps / wire fraud apartments / car leasing / sheepshead bay road is a bathub of washing money. ever notice how businesses come and go..?

  • kf

    Fuck Russians its not them its us The Jews .we did this to this dumb country and we will do it till the end of days

  • Marina

    Before making accusations about Russians and Jews most of the people commenting should get a little more educated. Though the person in this article is indeed Russian and a disgusting piece of shit taking advantage of people it is wrong to Catergorize Russians or Jews because of what others do. In every nationality and religion there are criminals so please get educated and stop being a hater in your miserable lives. There are many good and hard working russian jews who are educated and have accomplished many things so please know what your talking about before opening your mouth and writing nonsense

  • miluna4

    I just saw a show on cooking channel “My Grandmother’s Ravioli” featuring Eva Levits and this club.

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