Moscow native extradited in Aspen jewelry theft
A Russian woman suspected of helping steal $95,000 worth of jewelry from a downtown Aspen store was charged with felony theft Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court after being extradited to Aspen from New York City.
Mayya Kvek, 46, of Brooklyn, is alleged to have been caught on surveillance video stealing a pendant featuring diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and gold valued at $45,240 from Maja du Brul Jewelry on Sept. 12, 2017. She listened to Wednesday’s court proceedings through a Russian interpreter, but did not say anything.
However, her lawyer, Mark Rubinstein of Aspen, said Kvek was originally from Moscow but has lived full time in New York for the past four years. She is an interior designer who is married to an American man and resides with him and her 17-year-old son in Brooklyn, Rubinstein said.
He asked District Judge Chris Seldin to significantly lower Kvek’s $50,000 cash-only bond and allow her to return to New York to await trial because she has no connection to Colorado.
Deputy District Attorney Tony Hershey objected to that request, noting that Kvek “has been in the wind for some time” and that his office spent “a great deal of money to extradite her back to Colorado.”
“We have major concerns about her ties to another country,” Hershey said.
Seldin clearly shared those concerns.
The judge said he believed Kvek was a “significant” risk to flee not just Colorado, but the United States if she was able to post bond. He also noted that Kvek looks like the woman in the photos from the jewelry store robbery.
“The court is sufficiently satisfied the photo I see matches Ms. Kvek,” Seldin said.
Finally, Seldin brought up one more thing before keeping Kvek’s bond set at $50,000 cash only.
“This is not the only jewelry theft in Aspen involving people with international connections,” he said. “(I’m concerned) that Aspen may draw people from other countries for theft.”
In December, thieves thought to be from Chile stole nearly $420,000 worth of diamond and gold rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces from a jewelry case in the lobby of The Little Nell hotel.
If Kvek posts the bond, she must give up her passport to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Seldin said. She could then return to New York to await trial, he said, noting that such an arrangement would make it difficult for her to flee.
The robbery allegedly involving Kvek occurred in September 2017 after she and two other women in their 30s and 40s entered the store — referred to as Christopher Walling Jewelry in initial media reports — in the 300 block of Hopkins Avenue. An older man and woman police believe were with the trio followed soon after, according to previously released court documents and Kvek’s arrest warrant affidavit.
Video surveillance showed the older man steal a pair of aquamarine and white gold earrings valued at $21,750 and a pair of pearl earrings valued at $28,000 from a case while the others distracted the saleswoman. The woman in the surveillance identified as Kvek allegedly stole the pendant also while the saleswoman was distracted.
Not long after, the saleswoman caught the older man stealing a bracelet, grabbed it back from him and ordered him and the older woman out of the store, Aspen police have said.
Aspen police Det. Ritchie Zah discovered that cellphone numbers associated with Kvek and GPS placed her in the Aspen area at the time of theft.
On Wednesday, Zah said Kvek was arrested in New York after she applied for an emergency visa to return to Russia. Authorities in New York ran her name, found the Aspen warrant for her arrest and took her to Riker’s Island, New York City’s main jail, to await extradition to Aspen, according to Zah and court documents.
Rubinstein said Wednesday in court that Kvek and her son both applied for U.S. green cards eight months ago and were hoping to have an answer from the federal government in the next four to six months.
“She has no intent on ever returning to Russia on a permanent basis,” Rubinstein said. “(She’d go to Russia) only to vacation and visit with family members and only after her green card is approved.”
Rubinstein also said Kvek was married to a man with the same last name as the older man allegedly caught stealing at the Aspen jewelry store. The older man has been identified by police and charged with felony theft in a warrant signed by Seldin in May.
The name also matches the suspected last name of another woman who allegedly entered the Aspen store with Kvek in September, according to Kvek’s arrest warrant affidavit. Zah said he did not know if Kvek’s husband was related to the other suspects in the case, or might possibly be a suspect himself.
“Without a picture I have no idea,” he said. “These guys go by so many different names.”
Kvek is scheduled to appear again March 15 in Pitkin County District Court.
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