A federal jury in Brooklyn today convicted Akmal Narzikulov of all eight counts of a superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion and Hobbs Act extortion relating to a scheme to assist cheating by applicants for commercial driver licenses administered by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) and licenses issued by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (“TLC”). Narzikulov was also convicted of using a firearm in connection with the charged extortion and conspiracy to commit witness tampering. The verdict followed a two-week trial before United States District Judge Brian M. Cogan.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the verdict.
“With the defendant’s conviction, he is held accountable for a long list of crimes, including conspiring to engage in a brazen cheating scheme, kidnapping, extortion, witness tampering and threatening a co-conspirator at gunpoint,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis. “I commend our prosecutors for laying out the detailed road map that led to today’s verdict and for bringing justice to the individuals who were harmed by the defendant’s greed and senseless violence.” Ms. Kasulis expressed her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, for their outstanding investigative work on the case.
As proven at trial, Narzikulov and other co-conspirators assisted applicants for commercial driver licenses (“CDLs”) in cheating on tests administered by the DMV in exchange for cash. Using wireless communication devices hidden inside the applicants’ clothing, Narzikulov’s co-conspirators transmitted the correct answers to earbuds used by the applicants as they took written exams at various DMV locations. For example, after making the illicit payment to the defendant and his co-conspirators, the license applicant was provided a T-shirt with a tiny hole cut out in the middle. A smartphone was attached inside the shirt with the camera aimed through the hole so the co-conspirators could view the test questions and send the answers to the applicant. The defendant and his co-conspirators used the same method to assist applicants in cheating on written tests required to obtain licenses from the TLC.
On March 28, 2019 in Brooklyn, Narzikulov, co-defendant Sherzod Mukumov and an unapprehended co-conspirator kidnapped an individual (“the Victim”) who had withdrawn from the license cheating scheme. Surveillance video showed the Victim being shocked and subdued with a taser, and then being dragged to a waiting car by Narzikulov and the co-conspirator.
On the same night as the kidnapping, Narzikulov threatened another co-conspirator at gunpoint in an attempt to extort money from him and the Victim.
As charged in the second superseding indictment, Narzikulov offered thousands of dollars to key witnesses against him to travel overseas and remain there until after the defendant’s trial was over. When Narzikulov was arrested in April 2019, FBI special agents recovered a 9mm handgun, approximately $300,000 in cash and numerous identification documents belonging to other individuals from inside a closet in the defendant’s apartment.
In November 2019, Mukumov pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and is awaiting sentencing. In January 2020, Jasur Kamolov pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce false identification documents and is awaiting sentencing. In November 2020, Murodjon Sultanov pleaded guilty to witness tampering and was sentenced in April 2021 to a term of 24 months’ imprisonment. In May 2021, Firuz Juraev pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act extortion conspiracy and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and is awaiting sentencing.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Public Integrity Section. Assistant United States Attorney Turner Buford and Special Assistant United States Attorney Virginia Nguyen are in charge of the prosecution with assistance from paralegal Shivani Parshad.
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-223 (BMC)