A judge will determine whether Alexander Smirnov, 43, should remain behind bars while he awaits trial.
Special counsel David Weiss’s office is pressing U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II to keep Smirnov in prison, arguing that the man who claims ties to Russian intelligence is likely to flee the country.
Last week, a different judge released Smirnov from jail for electronic GPS monitoring, but Wright ordered the man to be re-arrested after prosecutors asked to reconsider Smirnov’s detention.
Wright said in a written order that efforts by Smirnov’s lawyers to free him “would likely facilitate his escape from the United States.”
Alexander Smirnov, second from right, leaves the courthouse on February 20, 2024 in Las Vegas.
Former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, left, leaves his attorney’s office in downtown Las Vegas after being released from federal custody on Tuesday, February 20.
In an emergency petition to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Smirnov’s attorneys said Wright did not have the authority to order Smirnov to be arrested again.
The defense also criticized what it described as Wright’s “biased and prejudicial statements,” suggesting that Smirnov’s lawyers were acting improperly in advocating for his release.
Smirnov is accused of falsely telling his FBI handler that executives at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma had paid President Biden and Hunter Biden $5 million each around 2015. The claim became central to the Republican impeachment inquiry into President Biden in Congress.
In urging the judge to keep Smirnov locked up, prosecutors said the man informed the FBI that he had had contact with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence.
Prosecutors wrote in court papers last week that Smirnov told investigators after his first arrest that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing him a story about Hunter Biden.
Smirnov, who has dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship, is charged by the same Justice Department special prosecutor who filed separately gun and tax charges against Hunter Biden.
Smirnov has not pleaded guilty to the charges, but his lawyers have said they hope to defend him at trial.
Defense attorneys have said in pushing for his release that he has no criminal record and has strong ties to the United States, including a long-time partner who lives in Las Vegas.
In his ruling last week freeing Smirnov for GPS monitoring, federal Judge Daniel Albregts in Las Vegas said he was concerned about his access to what prosecutors estimate is $6 million in funds, but noted that federal guidelines They required him to create “the least restrictive conditions.” ‘before his trial.
Smirnov had been an informant for more than a decade when he made the explosive allegations about the Bidens in June 2020, after “expressing bias” about Joe Biden as a presidential candidate, prosecutors said.
Smirnov only had routine business dealings with Burisma starting in 2017, according to court documents.
Diana Lavrenyuk (right) poses with her son Nikolay and another woman
Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, speaks to reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, December 2023.
No evidence has emerged that Joe Biden acted corruptly or accepted bribes in his current or previous role as vice president.
While his identity was not publicly known before the indictment, Smirnov’s claims have played a major role in the Republican effort in Congress to investigate the president and his family, and helped spark what is now a House impeachment inquiry into Biden.
Republicans investigating the Bidens demanded that the FBI release the unredacted form documenting the unverified allegations, although they acknowledged they could not confirm whether they were true.
Smirnov was known as a “loyal good neighbor” to those who knew him and his long-time girlfriend Diana Lavrenyuk, 58, who lived in a $3.2 million home in the missionary town of San Juan Capistrano, in California.
‘We would go to dinner, we would share meals, we would share a glass of wine. I really liked him and Diana. “They were both very nice,” Mike Pastore, a 75-year-old mortgage broker who lives across the street from the terracotta-tiled four-bedroom house where Smirnov lived for the past five years, told DailyMail.com.
He was a good and honest neighbor. He loved being in the United States; They both did it.
Smirnov, a joint Israeli-American citizen, now faces 25 years in prison for allegedly making up the claims about Biden, and is accused of “high-level” and “extremely recent” ties to senior Russian intelligence officials, including the head of a murder. equipment.
But in San Juan Capistrano he kept a low profile while acting as a paid informant for federal authorities for 13 years, assisting in numerous criminal and counterintelligence investigations, according to prosecutors.
Only small hints of his double life reached neighbors, in conversations over dinner at a local steakhouse or at a backyard barbecue.
‘He said he had connections with important people. “In one conversation he mentioned that he had a meeting with the Minister of Defense in Afghanistan,” a neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, told DailyMail.com. “And he had connections with important people in America.”
Pastore said: ‘I know he was involved with the government. I know he was originally from the Eastern Bloc. Although I don’t think he actually told me that.
‘From time to time we talked about geopolitical issues and he was well informed. It was an interesting conversation with him… He traveled a lot.’
Neighbors said the more they discovered about Smirnov, the more of a mystery he became.
“He had a very unconventional lifestyle,” said one resident of the affluent Southern California cul-de-sac, which borders a creek, equestrian stables and a golf club. “It seemed strange to me.
‘This is a very safe neighborhood. But when she moved here, he put up more cameras than I think there are in the entire neighborhood. That’s why he was very concerned about security.
“The way he led his lifestyle made me think he lived here to blend in.”
Pastore said Smirnov told him he owned the $3.2 million, 3,810-square-foot home on his hillside street.
But after he sold it in May of last year and told Pastore he was moving to Las Vegas with Lavrenyuk, the new owners revealed that the property was not in Smirnov’s name.
“He was obviously very well off financially, although his name was not on the deed to the house,” said a neighbor. ‘He spent a lot of time and money remodeling.
‘He had this house, a house in Las Vegas, he said, and also properties in other countries.
“He had some connections with Israel and the Eastern Bloc, at least that’s what he said.”
Property records show the house was purchased in 2018 by Nikolay Lavenyuk, the son of Smirnov’s longtime partner. Pastore said Nikolay lived on the East Coast. Smirnov was not mentioned in the purchase or sale records.
Pastore told DailyMail.com that Smirnov and Lavrenyuk appeared to be a long-term couple.
“I had the impression that they had been together for a long time. He had a painting of her in the entryway of her house. The painting measured 4.5 feet by 3 feet, oil on canvas. It was a beautiful picture and he loved it very much,” she said.
‘I can’t even believe this was happening. For him to be involved with Burisma is something of a pretty high level. It’s intriguing. But he never shared any of that with me.
After Smirnov was released on bail by a federal judge in Las Vegas, another judge in Los Angeles ordered his arrest. He is now due to appear in court on Monday.
Smirnov’s glamorous cousin Linor Shefer was with him in Las Vegas court this week. He was a contestant on the Israeli version of the reality show Big Brother and in 2014 won the Moscow beauty pageant ‘Miss Jewish Star’.
Smirnov also kept a low profile online. No photos of him have yet emerged, other than a photo of him with his face covered, leaving the Lloyd George federal courthouse in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
He was accompanied from court by his cousin, Linor Shefer, who works for a real estate developer who does business with Donald Trump.
Shefer, a 38-year-old Israeli-American, was a contestant on the Israeli version of the reality show Big Brother, and in 2014 she won the Moscow ‘Miss Jewish Star’ beauty pageant.
According to his LinkedIn page, he has been an “internal consultant” for Dezer Development in Miami, Florida since 2022.
Dezer partnered with the Trump organization to develop the $600 million Trump Grande Ocean Resort and Residences and the $900 million Trump Towers. The company is run by Gil Dezer and founded by his father, Israeli-American billionaire Michael, who is a Trump donor.
Smirnov’s lawyers told the court at his hearing Tuesday that their client had a close personal relationship with his cousin Shefer, arguing that reduced his flight risk.