It was almost one year ago to the day that I first wrote about Elizaveta Zlatkis, a New York City woman who was facing nearly two dozen felony charges for illegal gun possession, even though the “guns” that cops found in the apartment she shared with her young children and her then-husband were either airsoft, starter pistols, or (in one case) a firearm that had been rendered inoperable.
Twelve months later and Zlatkis’ legal battle is still going on. Prosecutors have dropped the felony charges, but they’re still going after the woman on a number of misdemeanors.
“This has been hell for two years for me and my children,” the 33-year-old mom said this week. “They publicly humiliated me, and now they refuse to admit that they were wrong.”
“They are trying to save face and extend this case past three years so I can’t sue them,” she claimed. “They want me to take a plea [deal], but I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Joe Murray, Zlatkis’ lawyer, said prosecutors even misplaced the case file when he showed up in court Monday seeking to have the case dismissed.
“This is not prosecution,” Murray railed. “It is a persecution of a single mother with no record who wasn’t even mentioned in the search warrant.”
This really does seem to be an extraordinary waste of time and resources on the part of the District Attorney in Queens. Violent crime (including homicides) are still on the rise across New York City after a sharp increase last year, but the D.A. appears to be intent on punishing Zlatkis for something after the felony gun charges fell apart. Since they can’t convict her of illegally possessing guns, they’re now trying to get her on a charge of illegally possessing ammunition, as well as child endangerment.
A spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration said Zlatkis’ file was located on Wednesday and that the case would be back in court on Dec. 15.
Zlatkis vowed to keep fighting to clear her name.
“I’m willing to go to trial,” she said. “But the last thing that they want is the embarrassment when I beat them in court. My 11-year-old son knew the guns weren’t real.”
One of the things that’s puzzled me about this case since I first learned about it why Zlatkis is the one facing charges, while her then-husband Elvis Selimi was apparently able to avoid prosecution. As Zlatkis’ attorney mentioned, her name wasn’t even on the search warrant, but I’ve not been able to find any information that Selimi was ever arrested or charged with the same crimes that Zlatkis originally faced or is facing now.
Look, I think it’s a sad commentary that the couple could apparently make a living (or at least some extra cash) by renting out prop guns to rappers to use in music videos. We can talk about the morality or ethics of that business model all day long, but given the violent crimes being committed in Queens by individuals using real guns (along with real knives and other implements), spending taxpayer dollars to try to convict Zlatkis of illegally possessing imitation firearms and “unlicensed” ammunition seems like an attempt by prosecutors to save face rather than an effort to save lives or seek justice. The saddest part of all of this is that given the absurdities of New York City’s gun control laws, the prosecution has a good chance of getting their way.