Brooklyn federal prosecutors say members of a Brighton Beach and Coney Island crime ring played a nasty game of monopoly by torching an illegal gambling den that was competing with its own poker operation.
According to Wednesday’s new version of a racketeering case, four men are accused of having roles in the dangerous May 2016 blaze. The alleged firebug quartet has already been charged in the 2016 case; the indictment now has six defendants charged on a range of crimes that also includes extortion, assault and drug trafficking.
The crew — allegedly linked to Eastern European gangsters known as the “thieves in law” — had its own Coney Island high-stakes poker den, prosecutors said, adding it didn’t like having a Sheepshead Bay gambling spot about a mile away. The rival gambling establishment ran on the ground floor of a three-story residential building.
According to prosecutors, Vyacheslav Malkeyev, 33, set the place on fire.
Firefighters rescued two residents — including a 12-year-old boy — who were trapped on the top floor. Prosecutors said the two residents were injured, as were five smoke-eaters. One suffered first-degree burns on his face.
Amateur video showed the ladder rescue, with smoke billowing from the building and glass shattering as the firefighter makes the dramatic save.
Malkeyev pleaded guilty to marijuana-distribution conspiracy in a previous version of the indictment. In addition to the arson, he’s charged with crimes like pistol-whipping a person suspected of stealing drugs from a stash house.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted of all the new offenses. Malkeyev was arraigned on the charges in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday afternoon and remanded.
In a statement, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said “our firefighters selflessly and heroically worked to rescue residents trapped in this fire, allegedly ignited by callous individuals who put firefighters and civilians in danger solely for criminal and individual gain.”