Under a final decision, the Bucharest Court of Appeal handed a jail sentence of 24 years, two months and 20 days to Adrian Marin Botez, leader of the so-called ‘Offenders Academy’ ring specializing in robberies of luxury stores.
The Court admitted the appeal filed by Botez and decided to reduce the 30-year prison sentence initially handed down by the Bucharest Tribunal to 24 years, two months and 20 days.
The Court dismissed the appeals of the other defendants in the case and upheld the decision of the Bucharest Tribunal.
On October 15, 2015 the Directorate for Organised Crime and Terror Investigation (DIICOT) sent to court 18 members of the crime ring self-dubbed “The Academy of Romanian Offenders” specializing in armed robberies on luxury stores in Europe and that had got away with booty worth 8.5 million euro.
DIICOT said that the evidence produced during the prosecution proved the connection between 29 crimes, of which 27 robberies committed in the UK, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Denmark and two offenses of aggravated burglary committed in Andorra and the UK.
The prosecutors stated in the case file that the ring was conceived, initiated and organized according to military criteria, having a pyramidal structure with a commander in chief on top – Adrian Botez aka “Titty” – and several levels headed by trusted crime bosses with the rank of “officer”.
The bottom level was that of the offenders who carried out the thefts – minors and young adults recruited from Neamt County, usually from poor families, orphanages, youth with criminal records willing to join the group and commit armed robberies at luxury stores in western Europe, for a modest reward compared to the worth of the stolen items.
DIICOT said that Adrian Botez had reconsidered his criminal strategy, switching from breaking at night in commercial centres in west European countries to raids in broad daylight on luxury watch and jewelry shops, carried out by specially trained youth. According to DIICOT they copied the methods of the infamous Pink Panthers thief gang which hails from the space of the former Yugoslavia, using violence and threat, taking advantage of the shock of the victims and getting away in just a few tens of seconds with jewelry, gems and expensive watches worth millions of euro.
“In time the ring crystallized and even got to ‘codify’ its rules, organization and functioning in a so called ‘Academy Regulation’, with separate chapters on the profile of the future academy member, a template of ‘secret work contract’, as well as chapters regarding the physical, mental, theoretical, practical and interrogation training each recruit had to go through, and a separate chapter on the ‘trial’ the one who made a mistake or betrayed the gang had to undergo,” the release reads.
The case was built together with judicial police officers of the Criminal Investigation Directorate and the Directorate for the Combat of Organized Crime.
As part of the investigation, with the assistance of Eurojust, Romania and the UK signed an agreement for setting up a joint investigation team; the act was expanded by an addendum to also include Belgium.