The Ocean Beach Connections in the Case of the Exiled Wall Street Fraudster

by on September 8, 2017 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

Vladislav ‘Steven’ Zubkis

There is s strange case out there of a Wall Street fraudster who was recently featured in a San Diego Union-Tribune article about being wanted for assault and kidnapping – and the case has some strange connections to Ocean Beach.

Vladislav ‘Steven’ Zubkis, an Ukrainian immigrant and dubious Wall Street investor, has a long history over the last 20 years of committing white collar crime in this country. A number of years back, Zubkis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering in a San Diego federal court. He was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution.

In April of 2010, Zubkis got out of prison, and despite being a deportable felon, immigration officials didn’t know what to do with him as he had immigrated from Ukraine while still part of the Soviet Union. He was deemed a man without a country, and placed on probation. After about a year later, Zubkis refused to pay restitution to his victims while living in an expensive home in Coronado. Finally, a federal judge issued a warrant for his arrest but by that time,he had fled to Mexico.

Victoria “Vica” Zubkis (Facebook photo)

Then on May 28th, 2015 Zubkis’ 20-year-old daughter Victoria’s body was found floating off Ocean Beach, near the OB Pier by a local surfer. At the time, the nude body was very decomposed and her identity was not known.

An autopsy found no signs of foul play — no gunshot wound, stab wound, blunt force injury, or asphyxiation. With water and sand in her lungs, the medical examiner believed these indicated she was likely alive when she went in the ocean and had drowned. Still questions remained about the circumstances of her death. Her cause and manner of death were listed as undetermined.

After interviewing nearly a dozen people, San Diego detectives concluded Victoria likely died in an accident or by suicide. Detective Warrick told the SD U-T:

“I base that on the autopsy, I based that on the witness interviews that we conducted, and our follow-ups, there was nothing to indicate that she had been killed in that residence.”

Victoria’s mother disagreed. Alla Zubkis – a social worker with a doctorate in psychology – said:

“She would never be suicidal. She was very, very strong but knew her weaknesses. She was doing very well.”

As the U-T reported:

May 21, 2015, was the last time Alla saw her daughter.

That day, Victoria went to meet her ex-boyfriend at the Old Town trolley station for a ride into Ocean Beach. He told Victoria’s mother that they partied, had breakfast the next morning and then Victoria went to the beach. He went to pick her up there later that afternoon, but she was gone.

Alla filed a missing person report with El Cajon police on May 26.

Chronicling Victoria’s background, the U-T stated:

Victoria, or “Vica,” as she was affectionately known, wanted to be a singer. … Performing was in her blood. … Victoria grew up competing in the [rhythmic gymnastics] sport, mixing dance with acrobatics in floor routines that often involve balls, ribbons or hoops. … As a young woman, the pretty blonde put her talents to work performing with Cirque du Soleil artists in Tijuana

Vica lived with her dad at his condo in Rosarito but also stayed with her her mother in El Cajon. Alla, her mom, told the media her daughter suffered from bipolar disease (as did her father), but she managed it well with medication.

Then there’s the OB connection. Kristina Davis, the U-T writer described it:

Victoria’s circle of friends included a group in Ocean Beach that has come to define the free-spirit grit of the neighborhood — drifters, drug users, skaters, surfers, hippies. Some are one couch away from being homeless, a lifestyle that is chosen rather than forced upon them. They call themselves “dirty kids.”

Vica’s father also didn’t take the medical examiner’s conclusion well, either. He decided to do something about it and launched his own little investigation, offering $1million on Facebook for information on her death.

About a week after Vica’s body was found, on June 5th, a man named Jorge Ibarra who took drugs and lived on the streets and beaches of OB, was walking on Newport Avenue when he ran into a group discussing her death. Ibarra later told investigators he had just taken some LSD. One of the men in the discussion was Ceasar Mena, who claimed he was dating Victoria at the time of her death. He also told others Zubkis had hired him as a private investigator.

Here’s the U-T account:

As he walked down Newport Avenue with some friends on that Friday night, a knot of acquaintances hanging in the parking lot of Stuff 2 Puff smoke shop waved him over. They were talking about Victoria’s death, a common topic the past several days among O.B. regulars, and they wanted to hear what he knew. …

According to Ibarra, the last time he saw Victoria, she was “really high on drugs” and had been accused of stealing from a friend, so the ex-boyfriend she was last seen with kicked her out of his house. The group in the parking lot, including Mena, apparently didn’t like Ibarra’s answers. …

Ibarra was ordered to get into Mena’s car, roughed up while parked in a nearby alley by twin brothers who were friends of Victoria’s, tied up with a cellphone charger cord then driven to Mexico against his will …

Once over the border, Mena reportedly brought the kidnapped Ibarra to Zubkis’ front door at his beachfront villa.

For the next several hours, the pair interrogated him and Mena beat him with his skateboard and a wooden table or chair leg. Zubkis got a few kicks in, too, Ibarra said.

Ibarra was rescued when security guards came to the front door after reports of a man screaming. Once inside, the guards found Ibarra with his feet duct taped together and his hands bound by two sets of handcuffs. Zubkis and Mena were arrested.  Zubkis was charged with orchestrating the kidnapping of an OB man with the intent to beat him for information about what happened to Victoria.

San Diego prosecutors brought a case against the twins charged with assaulting Ibarra in OB and another guy as well. Yet Zubkis and Mena were still in Mexico — and free on bail.  The first trial ended in June 2016 with a hung jury. When a second trial was brought forward, Mena had been arrested in Tijuana and was ready to be tried in San Diego. The second trial ended in December that year and Mena was found guilty of kidnapping, torture and assault with a deadly weapon. The twins were acquitted. Mena is serving a life sentence. The 3rd guy was determined to be mentally incompetent.

And what about Zubkis?

He remains a fugitive in Rosarito.

The U-T:

“…yet he is living freely — for now — under an amparo, a legal protection in Mexico sought by Zubkis’ lawyer that shields him from police contact while the judiciary reviews whether his civil rights have been violated.  The case hasn’t seemed to stop him from trying to sell the next big thing to anyone who will listen.”

Zubkis captured national financial headlines in August 2016 when the SEC put a 10-day freeze on trading on his latest venture, NeuroMama, where he claimed in a letter to investors to serve as chairman of the company’s board under the alias Steven Schwartzbard.

The FBI thinks it’s another scam.

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Other source: the Daily Mail

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar Frank Gormlie September 9, 2017 at 10:17 am

Somehow I missed Vica’s tragic death in 2015 in my composite of “Death and Distress at Sunset Cliffs 2005 – 2015” http://obrag.org/?p=99406, and in my updated post about 2015 being the deadliest year http://obrag.org/?p=102228.

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