Man to be charged with soliciting murder of Bryant's accuser

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - A Swiss bodybuilder with an expired visa will be charged with offering to kill the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant sex assault case for $3 million, authorities said.

Patrick Graber, 31, a weight training coach who allegedly claimed to have connections to organized crime, was scheduled for arraignment Monday on charges including solicitation to commit murder, the district attorney's office said Friday.

Graber, who was held on $1 million bail, was seized Thursday in El Segundo, south of Los Angeles, as he reached for a bag filled with fake money, authorities said. He allegedly agreed to a deal in which he would receive $1 million up front and $2 million after the killing.

Graber's lawyer, Peter Knecht, dismissed any involvement by his client in organized crime.

"Whatever happened here, this is not organized crime. It's disorganized crime," Knecht said.

The alleged murder plot investigation started Sept. 8, after Bryant's security personnel said they had received a letter stating the writer could solve the NBA star's problems, the sheriff's department said.

A meeting was eventually arranged with Graber and undercover sheriff's detectives.

The detectives concluded Graber was "a credible threat," sheriff's Lt. Jim Taylor said, and contacted the Eagle County, Colo., district attorney's office and the accuser's family to advise them of the alleged threat.

Graber's lawyer said everything his client knew about the family came from the Internet.

Taylor said Graber planned to hire someone to commit the crime and would provide evidence showing they had accomplished their goal, possibly within a week.

"He said he could make her not come to court, he could make her disappear, he could make her have a drug overdose," Taylor said.

A search warrant was served where Graber lived and firearms were found, Taylor said.

Bryant is charged with raping an employee of the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera near Edwards, Colo., on June 30. He has said the two had consensual sex.

The alleged murder-for-hire scheme is not the first threat to Bryant's accuser. Earlier this month, a University of Iowa student was arrested for allegedly leaving a threatening message on the woman's answering machine in July. And police records show her father has called police at least twice to report suspicious incidents.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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