The Bulgarian Job

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

Soon after, a state handwriting expert concluded it was "highly probable" the two signatures of Gadzanov on the alleged will were forgeries.

The case Britt had worked up appeared headed for convictions.

But the Bulgarians had an answer for everything.

Andrean Andreev, a convicted killer from Bulgaria, inherited  Ljuben "Louie" GadzanovÂ’s estate.
Andrean Andreev, a convicted killer from Bulgaria, inherited Ljuben "Louie" GadzanovÂ’s estate.
Ann Andreev cleaned out GadzanovÂ’s home months before any will surfaced.
Ann Andreev cleaned out GadzanovÂ’s home months before any will surfaced.

Released on bail with the other suspects within two days after the arrests, Andreev (and his lawyer) — believing the best defense is a good offense — pressed the case in probate court, fighting the Office of the Maricopa County Public Fiduciary for control of the estate.

Authorities, who appear to have underestimated Bulgarian immigrant Andreev, were ill-prepared for such a flanking maneuver.

In late September of last year, to Britt's dismay, Probate Commissioner Benjamin Vatz ruled that Gadzanov's will was valid, dismissing what he called the theory of a "gang that couldn't shoot straight."

The decision blew up the criminal case. With the estate now going to Andreev, prosecutors had no choice but to drop criminal charges against all five suspects.

Shane Krauser, a deputy county attorney, wrote a reluctant motion to dismiss the case, saying he "could not disagree more" with Vatz's decision.

"Ultimately," Krauser wrote of the five defendants, "they will pocket this money that the State believes does not belong to them."

To date, there's no evidence that Kocankov, Ilkov, or Lane pocketed anything.

But the Andreevs certainly did.


This could be a story about persecution — a tale of wrongful prosecution, overzealous authorities, and a group of innocent people who prevailed only after paying the price of having their reputations ruined.

Instead, it's a story about three men who helped a Bulgarian airport limo driver and, by extension, his wife inherit a small fortune.

Whether the Andreevs deserve their newfound wealth — not to mention whether any of the other three men will touch a penny of the money — is uncertain. The truth depends on whether the will that was ultimately accepted by the state was signed by the man who died, Gadzanov. But the truth may never be known because the state bungled the opportunity to fully examine the document.

No doubt, cops and prosecutors believe, the five committed a crime. At the same time, the former suspects claim complete innocence, and they proved their side to a judge. Calling them guilty now would be downright un-American.

Why Probate Commissioner Vatz decided as he did is spelled out in his five-page ruling, in which he questions why the state's handwriting analyst, John Gorajczyk, had used only a copy of Gadzanov's 1991 driver's license signature for comparison purposes.

Tucson handwriting expert Heidi Harralson, hired by Andreev's Phoenix attorney, Bruce Phillips, checked dozens of alleged pieces of writing by Gadzanov for her analysis. She told Vatz the signatures on the will looked good to her.

Vatz emphasized in his written ruling that the County Attorney's Office, which represented the Fiduciary's Office in the case, presented minimal evidence, compared to the other side. Vatz, now a commissioner in the county's mental health court, did not return calls seeking comment.

Through the ordeal, the alleged victims of estate fraud have been silent. The Fiduciary's Office presented no testimony or evidence from Gadzanov's Bulgarian family — his brother, Dimitar Lliev Gadzanov; two sisters, Nadezhda Gadzanova and Mariya Goncheva; and a nephew, Slavcho Gadzanov. Nor did any member of the family come to the United States to stake claim or hire an attorney to represent their side. New Times was unable to reach the family for comment. Stacey Johnson, a former deputy county attorney, was reportedly in contact with Gadzanov's kin, but she refused to comment.

Britt speculates that the family could be afraid of Andreev, a convicted killer.

Lane and the Bulgarians, on the other hand, aren't shy about speaking out. They claim to be the real victims, and Commissioner Vatz apparently agrees with them. Andreev's lawyer, Phillips, filed a claim against the city of Phoenix earlier this year on behalf of the group — which the city rejected — accusing police officers of false arrest and defamation of his clients' character and asking for $175,000 in damages for each of them.

New Times interviewed all five suspects. Each seemed sincere. All acted indignant over their treatment by the legal system.

After the interviews and a comprehensive review of documents and statements from other sources involved in the case, it's obvious that if the five are to be believed, the following must be bought:

• Gadzanov hastily prepared a will about 24 hours before he died a natural death.

• In the will, he stiffed his family in Bulgaria and gave his hefty inheritance to a convicted killer who was little more to him than a camping and beer-drinking buddy.

• Ilkov made an honest mistake when he initialed the wrong part of the will Detective Britt showed him.

• Despite claiming to be present during the signing of the will and despite being fluent in Bulgarian, Kocankov and Andreev mistakenly filed the wrong first page of the will in court, a page that didn't remotely match the English translation by Ilkov.

• Kocankov and Lane, who filed affidavits with the court stating they had witnessed Gadzanov signing his will, both made honest mistakes in failing to realize the affidavits didn't list the correct address for where the signing occurred.

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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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