The Bulgarian Job

An immigrant wills his estate to a convicted killer from his homeland and dies the next day. Anything smell fishy?

On a warm November day two years ago, a gold, '80s-model Mercedes sedan sped down Northern Avenue, jockeying through the thick lunchtime traffic. The driver, Atanas Ilkov, 18, was hurrying to pick up a friend at a car-repair shop when a police cruiser zoomed up behind him, lights flashing.

As Ilkov steered the sedan into a drugstore parking lot, an unmarked pickup truck pulled in behind the squad car. Seeing a plainclothes officer step out of the pickup and walk up to the Mercedes, the young man must have known this would be no ordinary traffic stop.

The uniformed officers let Detective Tom Britt of the Phoenix Police Department do all the talking.

Landon Armstrong
Rumen Kocankov says he helps fellow immigrants when he can.
Laura Segall
Rumen Kocankov says he helps fellow immigrants when he can.

Britt, a lean, muscular man in his 40s, admonished Ilkov for his poor driving, then held up a document consisting of a few sheets of paper. Britt asked if the document looked familiar.

Ilkov agreed that it did: The document was a copy of the three-page last will and testament of a Bulgarian immigrant who had died recently in Phoenix. The pages were handwritten in a messy scrawl of Cyrillic letters and a few English words, plus an attached translation in English that was signed by Ilkov.

It didn't look it, but the document — which had been filed with the Maricopa County Superior Court as official probate paperwork a month earlier, on October 5, 2005 — was potentially worth about $750,000.

And Britt believed it was as phony as a million-dollar bill.

Standing in the parking lot, Britt explained that the court, having no Bulgarian interpreters, had asked police to track down Ilkov to verify his translation.

The explanation was pure nonsense, but the kid didn't challenge it. Britt asked him if he knew Andrean "Andy" Andreev, the man who had filed the document in court.

"In response to this question, Ilkov seemed nervous and answered very hesitantly that he [did] not know Andrean Andreev," Britt would later write.

Ilkov, who speaks English without an accent, told Britt he had come to the United States from Bulgaria seven years earlier and translates documents written in Bulgarian from time to time.

Britt went on with his ruse, telling Ilkov that the court was concerned with the key part of the will — the part that describes who gets what.

The English translation of the will states clearly that Andreev, a man in his 50s who lives in Phoenix, is to receive the bulk of the estate of the deceased man, Ljuben "Louie" Gadzanov.

Britt, pretending to be ignorant of the foreign language, asked Ilkov to show him the corresponding Bulgarian words in the will. Britt would later write that the teenager looked at the handwritten document for a couple of minutes.

With traffic whooshing by on Dunlap Avenue, Ilkov pointed to some words near the end of the second page and said, "This is where it is."

Britt asked Ilkov if he was certain that this was the part that states: "I give to Andrean P. Andreev all of my personal belongings and real estate property."

Ilkov said he was certain, and he wrote his initials for Britt next to the Bulgarian words.

Britt had asked Ilkov a trick question.

The first page of the will had no match in Ilkov's translation. Only the latter half of his translation, the part that corresponded to the will's second page, was accurate.

No part of the document even implied that Andreev was to get all of Gadzanov's belongings. Any intelligent person could see — by simply comparing the English words, names, and numerals on the will's first page with its alleged English translation — that Ilkov's version didn't match.

The teenager's reactions seemed to Britt another sure sign that this so-called will was nothing but an amateurish forgery, a blatant attempt to lay false claim to a substantial estate.

The detective thanked the young man for his help, warned him about his unsafe driving, and let him go on his way.


Detective Britt hadn't mentioned that he knew Ilkov lived with his mother's boyfriend, Rumen Kocankov, who owned the Mercedes and was also a suspect in the alleged scheme. He hadn't mentioned he had interviewed Andreev and his wife, Ann — and, according to the cop, trapped them in lies.

Britt later reviewed his collection of evidence, which began with the unbelievable coincidence that Ljuben Gadzanov had supposedly drawn up and signed the unofficial-looking will in front of three witnesses late on the night of July 18, 2005 — as if he had known he would die of heart failure the next day.

Signs of a swindle appeared everywhere: The backgrounds and questionable behavior of the people involved, the dash to collect the deceased man's valuables, the convoluted stories, the out-and-out lies.

Andreev's involvement was especially troubling. He had spent 13 years in a Bulgarian prison for manslaughter.

Britt made his move on December 1, 2005. Police and federal authorities arrested five suspects in Phoenix: Ilkov, Kocankov, and the Andreevs, all naturalized citizens from Bulgaria, and Daniel Lane, the only non-Bulgarian of the group. County prosecutors charged them all with fraudulent schemes, perjury, and theft.

An Arizona Republic article about the arrest and charges appeared two days later with pictures of the accused.

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3 comments
Nick Matyas
Nick Matyas

It's really an impressive posting. I liked it & think that it will be helpful for others. Keep up the good work. Good luck.

Web Royalty

bath math
bath math

very nice blog......i like your posting ,this is the better blog.

Bathmate

paul_vincent_zecchino
paul_vincent_zecchino

Fishy? Nah. Business as usual in the Tapeworm Economy. Estate grifting is lucrative. Rented-pens with law degrees pimp it every day to senile old men. They stoke the anger which accompanies dementia and turn demented fathers against rightful inheritors, so as to loot millions. They split ill gotten gains with leeches who arrive as death nears.

When responsible adult offspring catch on, these rented pen lawyers attack with Judicial Terrorism. Judicial Terrorism is setting up the innocent on false charges so as to take their liberty and wealth, and get profitably away. I experienced it. Have you? Google "Case No. 04-6085-CA". "Perjury Pat" Stoye of The Marco Island Police Department lied against me. Her lies were pimped by rented-pens George Allen Wilson, II, of Cheffy, "We Make Housecalls!" Passidomo, and Mark V. Silverio. They reportedly boasted of 'imprisoning Paul Zecchino for thirty years without inconvenience of Court scrutiny'.

Since when is 'court scrutiny' inconvenient - to anyone besides lying gutless thugs?

My mother was poisoned for refusing to divert The Living Trust of 1957 to Lifespan HMO, www.lifespan.org, Providence, Rhode Island. Millions in my name and hers were coveted by Lifespan. Girard R. Visconti, Esq., 'masterminded this chicanery' by which my 98 year old, long in dementia father was unduly influenced into handing our family wealth to a corrupt HMO. Wilson declared me deceased. He did likewise to my wife. My wife! Talk about a 'red flag'! They thought we wouldn't notice? Why do they think their threats will forestall inevitable legal consequences? Their so-called evidence against me was all lies. Facts exonerated me. Cops called their 'Injunction' an 'a/wipe'.

After my mother, Julia M. Zecchino was murdered, her remains were quickly cremated. Contrary to Florida Law, The Marco Island Police Department admits they have no Death Report. Fishy? Nope. Business as usual.

I write to caution others about this 'crime syndicate'. They attacked us smoothly, without one scintilla of concern for legal consequences. Cops say that means they're is practiced, cunning, well-schooled....they'll do it to others'. I write in hope others will take note, steer clear of them and the troubles that accompany them.

Estate Grifting today is big business. Gothic Novels described it. Daphne DuMaurier's novel, 'My Cousin Rachel', describes what Zecchino Estate Grifters did to us as if they used DuMaurier's novel as a blueprint.

In our case, people are dead before their time. Investigators advised us to live carefully, as The Living Trust of 1957 is valid, albeit hijacked. My late mother and I are beneficiaries. That makes for an interesting life, to quote a Chinese curse.

Murder outs. Always. What seems a high flying gag goes along great. Then, as Sheriff Joe "Pink Panties" Arpaio recently learned, it goes bad, it goes very bad.

Check out my article on www.etherzone.com, to appear Monday or Tuesday, 29/30 of October, regarding Arpaio's Judicial Terrorism against The Phoenix New Times. Every criminal scheme, every police state gag carries within the seeds of its own destruction.

Murder outs - always. Truth can never be buried.

Dr. Paul Vincent Zecchino Manasota Key, Florida 28 October, 2007

 
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