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Russian Pilot Sentenced In New York For Drug Smuggling

Russian cargo pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko

Russian cargo pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko

NEW YORK -- A federal court in New York has sentenced a Russian pilot to 20 years in prison for drug smuggling, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Konstantin Yaroshenko was found guilty on September 7 of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. He pleaded not guilty.

Yaroshenko was arrested in the Liberian capital of Monrovia in May 2010 and extradited to the United States.

Yaroshenko's mother, Lyubov Yaroshenko, who along with the defendant's wife and daughter was present in the courtroom, told RFE/RL that she trusts Judge Jed Rakoff but added that she is confident that he was "misled and deceived by the investigators."

Yaroshenko's lawyer, Stephen Zyss, told RFE/RL he plans to appeal the verdict.

Zyss said there were several rulings by the judge during the process that can be appealed along with some "wrong decisions" by Yaroshenko's former lawyers and poor translation into English of Yaroshenko's recorded conversations.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated on September 8 that it would be working for Yaroshenko's return to Russia, saying that his verdict "raises a number of questions."

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