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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Police accuse four of extortion

Spokane Police say four people arrested Thursday repeatedly threatened a Ferris High School student when he refused to buy them beer and later to give them money.

In a press conference on Friday, Deputy Police Chief Al Odenthal said the case involved much more than bullying.

“This was particularly brazen,” Odenthal said.

The teen told investigators that he and another student agreed on March 12 to meet at NorthTown Mall “to work out” their problems after they had an argument about a girl, according to court documents.

When the alleged victim arrived at the mall, two vehicles were used to block his car from leaving, and he was confronted by the other Ferris student, another minor and two adults, the teen told investigators.

One of the men, Yuriy V. Sipko, 20, demanded money from the teen because earlier in the week he reneged on an agreement to buy the group beer, court documents allege.

When the teen said he didn’t have cash, Sipko took his bank card, driver’s license and cell phone and escorted him to an ATM machine, court records say. They told him to access his account, but when they discovered he only had $11, they demanded that he give them $100.

Sipko escorted him to his car and told him that he would only get his possessions back after he gave them the money, the victim told police.

When the victim arrived home, police were called.

“He was bright enough to tell a parent,” Odenthal said. “We don’t expect you to deal with this on your own. If you’re subject to this kind of intimidation we call that a crime.”

Police created an undercover plan, and the teen arranged to meet with the group on Thursday in the Fred Meyer parking lot at 400 S. Thor St., court records say. A young-looking undercover officer was in the victim’s car when the group parked nearby.

Sipko approached the victim and threatened “great bodily harm” to him, his family and friends if he didn’t pay $150, court records say.

Police arrested Sipko and three others.

Sipko and Roman Artemov, 20, were booked into jail on counts of second-degree robbery and first-degree extortion. Bail for both was set at $15,000. Two 17-year-olds, including the other Ferris High School student, were arrested on the same charges.

Police said Sipko was born in Belarus, and that immigration officials will be contacted about all four arrests. Police said they were uncertain what the immigration status is for any of the suspects.