Lawyer Martin Russo Referred to Manhattan DA
for Criminal Investigation

New York. April 2, 2010

by: Maria Gordon

Today Manhattan Judge Bernard Fried entered an order referring New York lawyer Martin Russo to Manhattan District Attorney's Office for investigation.

On March 31, 2010, Russo  accompanied by approximately 20 armed men, invaded the premises Ajna Bar (formerly Buddha Bar NYC), threatened the employees and locked out Ajna's officers and management, according to documents filed in court by Ajna president, Nina Zajic. Leading the invaders also was Jena-Yves Haouzi, a French national and former employee of Ajna's parent company. 

New York lawyer

Ajna Bar is an internationally acclaimed dining and entertainment establishment, regularly featured in major international media, including New York Times, New York Post, USA Today, Bloomberg News, Newsday; and others. 

"Haouzi and Russo, in a gangland manner, endeavored an apparently long-planned raid upon [Ajna's] premises, ransacking the premises and locking out [its]  legitimate management... broke into the safe and removed over $50,000 in cash" according to the Zajic affidavit.

MT has learned that numerous employees of Ajna, who witnessed the event, have provided affidavits describing the raid to be used in support of the referral to Manhattan DA. 

During the April 1, 2010 hearing, Judge Fried depicted the papers submitted to the Court as  some of the most "extraordinary" he has seen in years. 

Despite Russo's attempts to justify his actions, Fried on his own motion signed an order referring him for criminal investigation.

"Judges rarely order lawyers in a civil case investigated by criminal authorities" said one lawyer familiar with the matter.

Judge Fried, appointed a Judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York in 1980 and designated an Acting Justice of the Criminal Branch of the Supreme Court in 1984, has presided over both criminal and civil matters. Last month, Judge Fried handed down a critical decision in a much featured in the media case of U.S. Bank NA v. GreenPoint Mortgage Funding Inc.,  dismissing complaint of the insurers over the quality of $1.8 billion of home-equity loans, Reuters reported.

Russo, a partner in Manhattan law firm of Gusrae, Kaplan, Bruno & Nusbaum PLLC, is a lawyer for Inna Gudavadze, the widow of Georgian billionaire and philanthropist Badri Patarkatsishvili. Gudavadze was recently named defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit, which alleges that she, in conspiracy with former Russian "oligarch" Boris Berezovsky, murdered Mr. Patarkatsishvili in order to seize his fortune. (See: Gudavadze, Berezovsky, Implicated in Death of Badri Patarkatsishvili (MT.) Gudavadze claims ownership in Ajna. 

Ms. Zajic and Mr. Haouzi were not immediately available for comment. 


Order referring Martin Russo and Jena-Yves Haouzi to District Attorney
Submission to Manhattan District Attorney
►Statements of Eyewitnesses

Third-Party Complaint vs. Russo and Khurana


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