Has Phoenix PD's Expert Career Criminal Squad Fallen Prey to Office Politics?

RUSSIAN SPRING

Jana Rozenman curls up on a sofa on the patio of her Scottsdale apartment as her 4½-year-old twins watch TV and play with balloons scattered nearby.

She seems at peace, relaxing in the mild spring air, as she recalls the events of the past year, one that's just concluded with the conviction of her ex-husband, Cigar Warehouse owner Dimitri Rozenman, for contracting to have her and her family murdered.

Her ex's motive was money and revenge. Jana Rozenman had been awarded an almost $500,000 lump sum, and $6,000 a month as part of a divorce settlement. Dimitri seethed with hatred and indignation. At one point, he slashed the tires of her family's vehicles and poured sugar in their gas tanks.

Then he turned to an employee at one of his cigar stores, asking that he kill Jana, her parents, and her 17-year-old sister. The employee informed Jana of the plot and told her that Dimitri had told the employee that if he didn't do it, he'd hire others who would.

"Coming from a wild Russian culture," said Jana, 24, "you see it every day back home — someone being killed. Someone being hired to kill, over money or whatever. So I wasn't really surprised."

The demure, blue-eyed ethnic Russian is from Estonia. Her family came to the United States for political asylum, eventually settling in Arizona. She met her ex-husband while she was working as a waitress at a local restaurant.

Nearly 15 years her senior, Dimitri Rozenman was a naturalized American citizen, a Russian Jew who had fled his homeland in the 1980s. He and his new bride would eventually open a chain of discount cigar stores, growing the Cigar Warehouse enterprise to six locations in Arizona and Texas.

Their online business, TNTCigars.com, proved even more lucrative. Jana Rozenman says she's unsure of the total value of the businesses, which remain in her husband's name, but she suspects they are worth several million dollars.

Dimitri paid his employee, who later turned informant, $5,000 up front with the promise of $50,000 to $70,000 on the back end after the deal was done. On February 12, Jana went to the Phoenix Police Department to report what the employee had told her.

Seven days later, after an intense, round-the-clock undercover investigation by the Phoenix PD's Career Criminal Squad, Dimitri Rozenman was in custody, charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

The investigation involved faking a death scene with yellow tape, squad cars, and an ambulance at the home of Jana Rozenman's parents. It was to fool Dimitri if he drove past. Jana and her family were sequestered in a secure location for three days until CCS detectives knew they had enough evidence to convict Dimitri.

There were always at least two members of the squad watching the family. Jana remembers them playing computer games with the twins to put them at ease. She says she was grateful that her children endured little stress during the ordeal.

She has other reasons to be grateful to the CCS, an investigative unit of four detectives and one sergeant that has recently been ordered disbanded by April 5 by PPD higher-ups.

Although Dimitri had reportedly told others that he planned to flee the country with the kids after the killings, to a country with no extradition treaty with the States, Jana believes a far worse fate could have befallen her little ones.

"If somebody was to come and kill me and my family, and my kids would be with me, what would be the chances of them staying alive?" she wonders. "Who wants an unnecessary witness? Even though they're kids. It doesn't matter. It's just easier. Why would you leave kids behind with dead bodies?"

Dimitri Rozenman affirmed her fears when he was approached by CCS detectives for the first time. Rozenman already had been informed via phone by his employee-turned-state's-witness that his wife and her family had been slain.

The cigar czar didn't want to discuss the final payments for the killings over the phone, though his employee — whose calls were recorded by the cops — insisted that the men he'd hired to do the job were itching for their cash.

CCS officers paid an "official" visit to Rozenman to tell him his wife and her family were dead. The cops guarding Jana were able to listen on their radios to the exchange, which was also taped. Rozenman told his interlocutors that he had no idea who would want his wife offed.

Jana overheard one of the detectives listening with her exclaim, "The motherfucker never asked about his children."

It was a telling moment, one that would be replayed on tape during trial.

In the end, the CCS had Rozenman cold. On March 18, the jury took just 2½ hours to find him guilty of the murder-for-hire scheme. His sentencing is set for April 30. He faces possible life in prison.

Jana Rozenman's children are blissfully unaware of their father's predicament. Their mom told them their daddy's gone far away and probably will never return.

Fortunately, Jana says, Dimitri was obsessed with business and spent little time raising them, so they are not much bothered by his absence.

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9 comments
HeWasGood
HeWasGood

He was INNOCENT. That cheap bitch. I feel bad for the twins, she doesn't even know how to take care of them, he did all of it. He was a good man, who got mixed up with a vile creature.

v
v

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE CASE GOING WILD

In March of 2010, Dimitri Rozenman was accused of conspiring to commit murder. The financial worth of his company was overstated in the recent divorce settlement, giving his ex-wife a substantial windfall. An appeal of the ruling was filed. Dimitri's children s' welfare and stability were of great concern. An employee, Levi Najar, knew of this concern and repeatedly suggested if he could be a go-between his ex-wife and Dimitri to workout a more equitable solution. Being unaware of the familiarity between his ex-wife and Levi Najar, Dimitri agreed to a meeting. On February llth, a meeting took place at the home of Jana's parents, with Najar, Jana, her parents, and Najar's father. The following morning, Levi reports to Dimitri that things got out of hand and Jana's father was assaulted. This was a lie to extort Dimitri. Dimitri never envisioned things would escalate to such a magnitude. Hours later, Dimitri and Jana bump into each other twice at Saks Fifth Avenue, exchanging “Hi.”The next time Dimitri sees Najar, there is a camera, incoherent talk and confusion to Dimitri. Subsequent actions by the Phoenix Police Department charge Rozenman with conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Najar's statement on February 15th 2009, states, 'when I'm talking to him, (Dimitri}he doesn't understand anything I'm saying in the first place.”Several days later, with Dimitri in jail, Najar makes an impromptu visit to Jana to extort at least $175,000 for his father and at least $5,000 to $10,000 for himself. Jana feels the pressure and intimidation and contacts the police giving testimony that she owes him the money and will pay it, but not in one lump sum. Police never ask her why she owes him this money at this time. Jana's statement “this is not a loan several times to the repeated question by the detectives, “Was this a loan?”Immediately after Jana tells the police about the $175,000 demand, a grand jury convenes, however, the information about the monetary demand by Najar was withheld. Instead, Najar was told to hide, appear for the trial and then disappear.. Levi contradicted himself numerous times that Dimitri entered into a conspiracy to commit first degree murder. There was never any evidence money Levi stated Dimitri paid him was ever paid, and dates Levi stated it happened changed over four times. Also, Levi changed the total amount from $50,000.00 to $70,000.00 A trial takes place. The jury takes two and a half hours to take into consideration fifteen hours or more of statements and a lengthy trial, all on a late Friday afternoon. . Has our justice system failed us again?

v
v

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE CASE GOING WILD

In March of 2010, Dimitri Rozenman was accused of conspiring to commit murder. The financial worth of his company was overstated in the recent divorce settlement, giving his ex-wife a substantial windfall. An appeal of the ruling was filed. Dimitri's children s' welfare and stability were of great concern. An employee, Levi Najar, knew of this concern and repeatedly suggested if he could be a go-between his ex-wife and Dimitri to workout a more equitable solution. Being unaware of the familiarity between his ex-wife and Levi Najar, Dimitri agreed to a meeting. On February llth, a meeting took place at the home of Jana's parents, with Najar, Jana, her parents, and Najar's father. The following morning, Levi reports to Dimitri that things got out of hand and Jana's father was assaulted. This was a lie to extort Dimitri. Dimitri never envisioned things would escalate to such a magnitude. Hours later, Dimitri and Jana bump into each other twice at Saks Fifth Avenue, exchanging “Hi.”The next time Dimitri sees Najar, there is a camera, incoherent talk and confusion to Dimitri. Subsequent actions by the Phoenix Police Department charge Rozenman with conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Najar's statement on February 15th 2009, states, 'when I'm talking to him, (Dimitri}he doesn't understand anything I'm saying in the first place.”Several days later, with Dimitri in jail, Najar makes an impromptu visit to Jana to extort at least $175,000 for his father and at least $5,000 to $10,000 for himself. Jana feels the pressure and intimidation and contacts the police giving testimony that she owes him the money and will pay it, but not in one lump sum. Police never ask her why she owes him this money at this time. Jana's statement “this is not a loan several times to the repeated question by the detectives, “Was this a loan?”Immediately after Jana tells the police about the $175,000 demand, a grand jury convenes, however, the information about the monetary demand by Najar was withheld. Instead, Najar was told to hide, appear for the trial and then disappear.A trial takes place. The jury takes two and a half hours to take into consideration fifteen hours or more of statements and a lengthy trial, all on a late Friday afternoon. If you have any relevant information please e-mailatlanticig@gmail.com

Emmett
Emmett

CLEARLY, this is a case of vendictive office politics. Lets start with Phoenix Police Executive Assistant Chief Joe Yahner.. WHAT has he done in his career to be vaulted to the #2 position?? Name one positive thing that he has done in his career to better the Phoenix Police Department....Not one thing, he hid out for his entire career, never made any hard decisions, never stayed late, and he avoided the hard subjects...(but he is vendictive)..He has a hard on for Lt. Silbert, because Silbert respectfully disagreed with a decision Yahner made...Add that to the fact that Yahner is intimidated by Silbert. Silbert takes care of business and always has. Silbert has the respect of the rank and file because he leads by example. Yahner does not know what that means. What is even more sad, Silbert voluntarily left the unit. Yet Yahner still wants to target his men. Nice judgement there Joe! Nothing more important to worry about as PPD's #2?? How about dealing with the flat out overtime fraud that has been going on for years by a few people in DEB?? You know the ones. We all do, but nobody wants to deal with it..(oh yeah, and those guys never worked for Silbert, so they are safe...

Virgil
Virgil

Great article by Lemons. It's rare an article will capture so much in so little space. Having retired from the PPD, I am disheartened at what has happened to the Department. The leadership has fallen apart. The chiefs have built thier own camps and if you are not a part of one or a part of the wrong one, you will have serious problems. Someof the chiefs are locked out, it's a shame. I know the players in this article. The lieutenant is highly respected by the rank and file and it drives Yahner and Handy crazy. This is an age old problem on the PD, guys promote too young with no real experience and they micro-manage or hammer those who actually know the job and keep the community safe. Jack Harris is a good man, but he surrounded himself with guys like Yahner and Handy and they will be his undoing, even worse they will cause horrible relationships with the rank and file. Keep the squad, leave the personal politics out of it, if the idea works don't fight it.

pete green
pete green

Wow....it is kind of amazing that the fourth floor wants to do away with this very productive squad, and, at the same time is creating a squad in the water department (hhmm makes me wonder)??? ALSO trying to fill vacancies for non-productive squads in the same bureau; while at the same time doing away with the only such squad on the Police Department (very suspicious).

Maybe the 4th floor should look at cutting squads that attack only misdemeanor type crimes (like having several squads doing street level prostitution). wouldn't the citizens be better served by reducing VIOLENT crimes??????

VJohnson
VJohnson

I have been a Phoenix resident for over 40 years. In that time I have seen many changes in our community, some good, some bad. I think most would agree as a community we have seen increases in violent crimes and more violent offenders over the decades. Given the size of our community (5th largest metropolitan area – but not positive on that), the many cultures, and the challenges Phoenix faces, to eliminate a workgroup that is trained and focused on investigating the skilled repeat violent offender does not seem like a sound decision. Given the group’s results, as noted in the articles, they seem to have plenty of work. For me, it brings into question the decision making process of those entrusted to lead PPD. Is this really the best workgroup to reassign? We know the criminals are not going away because we face a budget issue. As a long time resident, I like knowing my police department has a skilled workgroup that can address the serious threats to our community. I sleep better at night knowing those serious issues are not being handled by another overworked group, as an extra assignment. I am sure the victims appreciate a skilled detective that is not carrying 100 other cases as well. I compare it to going to a foot doctor to have brain surgery. The foot doctor is skilled in his area, but not skilled enough to handle the brain surgery. Sometimes you need an ACE.

Ron Warner
Ron Warner

Obviously the Career Criminal Squad is one of the most productive and effective units in the department. With several thousand officers I am sure that these four detectives could remain in their current positions without draining the budget. By this time you would think that the department would have come up with a better excuse for eliminating the squad then someone else would do their work.

George San Carlos
George San Carlos

With all the bad news coming out of the PHX cop shop these days this is one the PHX police should be selling as a shining example of what they do right. They need to keep the CCS in tact and celebrate it, not kill it. What's wrong with "Chief" Harris anyway? This should be a no-brainer. Keep the fucking squad making the busts and putting away scumbags like Dimitri R. This is what we want the cops to be doing. This is what we pay them for.

 
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