Swiss bodybuilder Patrick Graber attempted to offer basketball legend Kobe Bryant an unsolicited murder-for-hire scheme to kill his rape accuser for $3 million in 2003.
Revealed in newly unsealed court documents, though heavily redacted, the 17-page report detail that Graber, then 31 years old, mailed the potential murder plot to Bryant’s address via Federal Express. Kobe Bryant’s security staff then immediately turned the letter over the authorities, who set up a meeting to trap and arrest Graber.
In the documents from 2003, Patrick Graber offered to “influence” Bryant’s rape accuser by “going all the way” to make sure the witness couldn’t testify if need be. Graber wrote that he could make Bryant’s “problem with respect to the sexual assault case go away.”
After being notified by Bryant’s lawyers, authorities at the the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department handed the case over to the FBI’s Organized Crime Unit, who later arrested him after setting up a fake meeting.
The investigators set up what they called a “controlled meeting” with Graber, who thought he was collecting his first $1 million payment for the scheme. He told them that he was connected to the Russian mafia and that his name was “Yuri.” The FBI reportedly arranged to pay him with fake money from Hollywood movie sets.
Cops on the scene read “Yuri’s” license plates, according to The Daily Beast, which were connected to cell phone numbers belonging to Patrick Graber. An employee at the mail center where Graber mailed the letter to Kobe also identified him as the same man.
Authorities then traveled to Colorado to warn Kobe Bryant’s 19-year-old accuser that her life could potentially be in danger, but that the man who solicited the unanswered murder-for-hire plot had been identified.
“I think he’s a little bit naive and not very swift,” Patrick Graber’s defense attorney said following his arrest. “He’s not the most intelligent guy in the world.”
At the time, Patrick Graber had been living in El Segundo, Ca. for two years, and was a Swiss national body builder who worked at Gold’s Gym in Venice, Ca.
It is unclear what motive led him to reach out to the basketball MVP with such a scheme. The two seemingly had no relationship at all before Patrick Graber sent Kobe Bryant the letter, and there was nothing in the investigation that alluded to previous cases of witness persuasion or murder-for-hire in Graber’s past.
“His main goal was to get money,” the District Attorney said after the case. “We felt this was an appropriate plea in this case.”
Graber was eventually charged with one count of witness dissuasion and one count of solicitation to commit murder. He faced a possible 10-year conviction in prison, but was sentenced to three years behind bars and then deported to Switzerland.
In an autobiography that he wrote in 2007 titled, Dead Women Tell No Tales: Who Planned the Murder of the Witness in the Kobe Bryant Rape Case, Graber alleged an unverified claim that he was a former bodyguard for Kobe Bryant. He called himself a “fall guy” for the scheme-gone-wrong, and details his time as a “Swiss black ops trooper” who spent his military service “guarding the president of an African nation.”
Patrick Graber was later arrested again for grand theft auto, according to The Daily Beast, which is what led to his deportation back to Switzerland.
Kobe Bryant’s accuser never testified in court, and the then-24-year-old NBA player said that he had thought the meeting was entirely consensual. The charge was later dropped, and Bryant issued an apology.