Man charged with soliciting murder of Kobe Bryant's accuser

Updated: September 22, 2003, 5:05 PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Prosecutors charged a man with solicitation of murder Monday for allegedly offering to kill the Colorado woman accusing Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant of rape.

Patrick Graber, 31, was also charged with one count of solicitation to dissuade a witness, the district attorney's office said.

Graber was scheduled to be arraigned later Monday. Prosecutors recommended bail be set at $1 million.

If convicted of the two felonies, Graber would face up to 12 years in state prison. Defense attorney Peter Knecht said last week that his client did not intend to kill anyone.

Graber was arrested Thursday in suburban El Segundo by undercover sheriff's investigators who set up a sting at a supermarket parking lot. He was identified as a Swiss national with an expired visa who worked as a bodybuilding coach at a local gym.

Detectives said Graber wanted $3 million to carry out the plan and had arranged to pick up a $1 million payment. Investigators had filled a bag with prop money used in making movies.

Bryant, 25, is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in his suite June 30 at the Colorado resort where she worked. Bryant, who has said the sex was consensual, faces an Oct. 9 hearing to determine whether he will stand trial.

The investigation here began Sept. 8 when Bryant's security staff reported receiving a letter offering to solve the basketball player's problem. The letter was signed "Yuri." Investigators said Graber claimed to have ties to Russian organized crime.

The two-count filing Monday was narrower than what the district attorney's office described last week. On Friday, the prosecutor's office said it planned to file an eight-count case.

Graber is the second man arrested in connection with the case.

John Roche of Iowa City, Iowa, is awaiting trial in federal court in Denver after pleading innocent this month to leaving a profanity-laced death threat on the accuser's answering machine. He remains free on a $250,000 unsecured bond.

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