A felon arrested after a robbery and armed standoff in Seattle is considered a “criminal alien” by federal immigration officials, but they’ve been unable to deport him because Russia, his homeland, doesn’t want him back.
Alik Aleksandrovich Lebedev is a wanted man whom nobody really wants.
He’s not welcome in America, where he’s been convicted of and served prison time for burglary, car theft and attempting to solicit sex from a 14-year-old boy, a conviction that requires him to register as a sex offender.
He’s currently in the King County Jail, being held on a charge of first-degree armed robbery that led to an eight-hour armed standoff with Seattle police on Queen Anne Hill May 9 and culminated when he shot himself in the chest.
The U.S. has been trying to send Lebedev back to his native Russia for the past dozen years, but Russia won’t take him, according to court documents and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
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The U.S. Supreme Court has held that it is unconstitutional for so-called “criminal aliens” — immigrants who have been convicted of certain crimes ICE considers violent felonies — to be held indefinitely in immigration custody.
The usual process is that criminal aliens serve the prison time for their offenses and on release are taken into ICE custody to be deported.
However, the courts have said that if they’ve been held by ICE for six months and there is no hope of deporting them “in the reasonably foreseeable future,” criminal immigrants have to be freed, except under special circumstances.
Information provided by ICE to the House Judiciary Committee indicated that the agency released 19,723 so-called criminal aliens, with a total of 64,197 convictions, in fiscal year 2015, mostly as a result of the court ruling, according to Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., the committee’s chairman.
In Lebedev’s case, immigration officials have taken him into custody and tried to send him back to Russia three times since 2004, said ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice from her office in Laguna Niguel, Calif. The most recent effort was in 2012 after he failed to register as a sex offender in Snohomish County.
“In each instance, ICE has reached out to Russian consular representatives to request a travel document, without success,” Kice said.
About all ICE has been able to do is require Lebedev to check in with the agency, which Kice said he had been doing.
She explained that Lebedev was born in Russia in 1974, before the collapse of the Soviet Union. “Historically, ICE has experienced significant challenges obtaining travel documents to repatriate foreign nationals born in the former Soviet Union,” Kice said.
She said the new countries that formed after the dissolution of the Soviet state “often declined to recognize the citizenship of individuals who were born within their boundaries before those countries came into existence.”
Lebedev was charged May 10 with the armed robbery of a man he allegedly met on the social hookup app Grindr. Lebedev went to the man’s Roy Street condominium on March 25.
According to the charges, the victim at first said he wasn’t interested in sex with Lebedev, but that they talked for a while. After Lebedev left, the victim said he had a change of heart and contacted Lebedev again on the Grindr app, asking him to return to the condo.
The victim said he was in bed waiting for him when Lebedev came into the room, brandished a handgun and stole cash, two watches and a credit card, according to the charges.
King County prosecutors described the robbery as “sophisticated,” noting that before he left, Lebedev took the victim’s phone and removed the SIM data card, wiped his prints from a credit card he touched but left behind, and forced the victim to delete the messages they had exchanged.
However, the victim kept a drinking glass that Lebedev had used, and put it in a storage bag to preserve it for police.
Detectives were able to use DNA and fingerprints they recovered from the glass to identify Lebedev, according to the charging documents.
Detectives obtained a search warrant and were trying to serve it at Lebedev’s home on Galer Street on Queen Anne Hill on May 9 when he barricaded himself in his apartment and threatened to shoot police or himself.
He shot himself in the chest after the tense, eight-hour standoff, but survived.
Court records indicate Lebedev served two years in prison after he was arrested in 2006 in an Internet sting for trying to solicit sex and sending pornographic photos and videos to a New Hampshire police officer posing online as a 14-year-old boy.
Lebedev also was arrested in 2000 when he was caught using a stolen car and trying to steal $4,000 worth of rings in a burglary at the Everett Mall Sears. A store manager bluffed Lebedev into dropping his weapon.
He spent almost three years in prison for the burglary and 2½ years in prison for the sex-offense case. He was released the second time in April 2009. He got into trouble again in 2010 and 2012 after he failed to register as a sex offender.