Indian-Americans accused of staging 'Snatch' styled robbery

Last Updated 03 May 2018, 06:08 IST

Prosecutors say that Atul Shah, 49, and Mahaveer Kankariya, 44, hired gunmen dressed as Hasidic Jews to carry out a robbery with fake guns.

In the movie, actor Benicio Del Toro and other diamond thieves disguise themselves as Hasidic Jews.

The two men were arrested in February 2010 and charged with were charged with grand larceny and insurance fraud.

The heist was carried out on December 31, 2008.

Shah and Kankariya got caught because they failed to destroy surveillance footage that showed them emptying a safe before the fake robbers came on the scene, officials said, as reported by the NY Daily News.

"They emptied out the big safe," Assistant District Attorney Eugene Hurley said at the trial in the Manhattan Supreme Court, earlier this month.

"They were going broke, they tried a desperate gamble," he added.

"They arranged a fake robbery to collect USD 7 million." The two men, now bankrupt, had poured drain cleaner over the security recordings but technicians were able to salvage the tape, prosecutors said.

Defence lawyers, however, said that no jewels have ever surfaced and no fake robbers were caught, Daily News reported.

"This is a theory without a case," Shah's lawyer Benjamin Brafman said. "The district attorney's case should require proof--they don't have proof."

Braffman also insisted that Shah had suffered a memory loss when he told Lloyd's that he had not touched the safe on that day. The video showed the opposite.

"He did not remember taking things out of the safe prior to the robbery," the lawyer said, noting that USD 700,000 in diamonds were found in the office after the attack.

Meanwhile, Kankariya's lawyer Michael Bachner said that the fake black guns were only found a year after the two men had vacated their office and they defendants could not be tied to the guns.

The New York Post, however, reported that the surviving video could prove very damaging for the two Indian- American businessmen.

It also shows them walking together into the kitchen where the video equipment is stored just two hours before the robbery. Then, the video image from one of four cameras begins flicker.

No one else goes into the kitchen, at least not until after the sputtering device dies two hours later, in mid-robbery. More damaging, The Post, reported was footage of jewelers methodically pulling shoebox-sized jewelry storage boxes off of the five shelves inside of a refrigerator-sized safe.

(Published 27 February 2011, 08:44 IST)

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