Russian Immigrant Suspected of Hiding From FBI as a Trucker Has Been Found… in Russia
Hamilton County, OH – A Russian immigrant wanted by the FBI and suspected of hiding within the trucking community has been located… in Russia.
In December 2018, Izmir Ali Koch, 34, was convicted of a federal hate crime and making a false statement to the FBI, stemming from an anti-Semitic attack outside of a restaurant in Hamilton County in February 2017.
In a sentencing hearing in July of this year, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott allowed Izmir to self-surrender, against the urging of prosecutors.
She ordered Izmir to report for a sentence of 30 months in a West Virginia federal prison beginning August 16.
However, Izmir did not report per the terms of his release agreement.
In September, Transportation Nation Network (TNN) was the first trucking media outlet to break the story and reported the FBI suspected Izmir was evading law enforcement by concealing himself within the “Russian or Turkish” communities inside the U.S.
Officials said Izmir was likely working as a truck driver or dispatcher.
In a turn of events feared by prosecutors, the FBI says Izmir has since escaped the U.S. and is now residing in Russia.
Izmir’s Brother Accused Of Helping Him Escape
According to a new indictment unsealed last week in federal court, Izmir’s brother, Baris A. Koch, 30, of Dayton, is accused of helping Izmir make his escape to Russia.
Baris was indicted on charges of misprision of a felony and making false statements to the FBI.
According to the indictment, ten days after Izmir was convicted, Baris obtained a duplicate driver’s license from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), claiming he had lost his previous license.
Then, five days after Izmir failed to report to prison, Baris obtained yet another duplicate driver’s license from the Ohio BMV, claiming again that he had lost his previous driver’s license.
Investigators later discovered, according to court documents, that on August 9, approximately a week before Izmir was scheduled to report to prison, he made his escape.
He crossed into Mexico by foot, posing as his brother, court documents say.
Officials say Izmir made changes to his appearance to look like his brother.
He then used Baris’s United States passport to fly from a Mexican airport to Europe, where he eventually made his way to Russia, according to DOJ prosecutors.
Both Koch brothers previously resided in Russia and have held Russian passports, court documents indicate.
Mail records show that several days later, on August 16, Baris received a package from a “Baris Ali Koch” from a Russian address with an official label describing the contents as “PASSPORT, COPIES OF DOCUMENTS.”
However, officials say the real Baris did not travel outside the United States during this timeframe, and the package was sent by Izmir.
The FBI interviewed Baris on September 11, to question him as to Izmir’s whereabouts and what role, if any, he played in helping his brother escape.
According to the indictment, Baris allegedly told the agents he had last seen Izmir on August 9, and that Izmir had left his cellphone, keys, business cards, bank cards, an old driver’s license, as well as his vehicle, a black Mercedes-Benz, at the family business, which is in Dayton.
Additionally, Baris asserted he had no knowledge regarding his brother’s whereabouts.
It is alleged Baris likewise failed to mention that, days after his brother’s disappearance, he received a package purportedly sent from himself in Russia with passports inside it.
Further, Baris allegedly failed to report knowledge of a felony offense, namely, aggravated identity theft by misuse of a U.S. passport, and concealed that fact from FBI agents.
In a statement, Baris’s lawyer, Richard Goldberg, said his client “is not guilty of any crimes and is not responsible for his brother’s failure to self-surrender for his 30-month prison sentence.”
If convicted on both charges, Baris faces up to eight years in prison.
As for Izmir, the United States and Russia do not have an extradition treaty, so it is unlikely he will ever be brought to justice.