FAMILY 'HIT MAN'
By MURRAY WEISS, PETER HOLLEY and LUKAS I. ALPERT
November 21, 2007
In the end, it was all in the family.
A relative of a doctor whose orthodontist ex-husband was gunned down execution-style in front of their 4-year-old daughter in a Queens park was charged yesterday with pulling the trigger, cops said.
Mikhail Mallayev, 50, of suburban Atlanta, was arrested over the weekend after dogged investigators linked him to the slaying of Daniel Malakov on Oct. 28, through partial fingerprints recovered from a homemade silencer used in the shooting.
The breakthrough came Friday, after weeks of exhaustively comparing the prints to those of known relatives and associates of Malakov and his estranged ex-wife, Dr. Mazoltuv Borukhova. Forensic investigators matched the prints to ones contained in a police archive from when Mallayev was arrested for evading a subway fare in 1994. "We were right on the money. We got excited," said Detective Daniel Perruzza who worked the case with Detective William Bieniek, both of the Latent Prints Unit.
On Saturday, three NYPD detectives flew to Atlanta, where they joined a marshal from the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and arrested Mallayev at his sprawling home where he lives with his wife and three children.
Sources say police using cellphone records were able to pinpoint Mallayev - who relatives said is a distant cousin of Borukhova's - driving up to New York on I-95 just before the shooting. They also determined that he returned to Georgia immediately after the shooting.
Mallayev admitted to police that he was in the city at the time, but insisted he had nothing to do with the death of Malakov, 34, the sources said.
According to the criminal complaint, witnesses described the killer to police as being a white male, between 48 and 50 years old, and standing about 5-foot-8 with a chubby build. Not only does Mallayev stand 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weigh 190 pounds, he also bears a striking resemblance to the suspect pictured in a sketch handed out by police.
Mallayev was charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. He is expected to waive extradition, sources said.
Malakov's relatives - who have always accused Borukhova, 33, and her family of having something to do with their son's killing - were stunned by how close to home the alleged killer was.
"He was in the wedding! Oh my God! He was in the wedding!" wailed Malakov's mother, Malka. "God punish him! How can you have animal heart?"
Malakov's brother, Gabriel, said: "I feel like crying. They arrested the guy, but they can never return my brother."
Malakov and Borukhova - both Bukharian Jews from Uzbekistan - met in 2000 and were married the following year. But the marriage went sour after the pair had their daughter, Michelle. Following their divorce, the pair fought over her and a judge granted him custody just six days before he was shot. She is currently in foster care.
A man who answered the phone at Mallayev's home promptly hung up when asked for comment. His sister-in-law, Berta Babayeva, who lives in Borough Park, said he had been in Brooklyn in early November for a wedding, but there was no way he could be involved.
"It's not true. He is a good man," she said.
A woman who identified herself as Borukhova's sister, but would not give her name, said her sister had nothing to do with it and that she didn't know Mallayev.
"She was never involved. She never had a thought of killing him. She just wanted him out of their lives in a peaceful way, but not through death," she said. "I don't know him. I don't think he's related."
Mallayev's niece, Margarita Babayeva, 38, said she saw her uncle in Brooklyn just this past week and that he made a special trip to visit Borukhova for treatment for a heart condition.
"He said, "Can you believe Daniel is dead?' and then he told me he went to see Mazoltuv. I said, 'Why would you go?' I had a bad feeling about this, and he said, 'I am not only a relative but also her patient,' " she said. "This is ridiculous. He doesn't even have a gun. He would never do something like this."
Mallayev, who runs a contracting business, moved to his house in Chamblee, Ga., with his family about three years ago.
While living in Georgia, Mallayev - who emigrated from Uzbekistan 19 years ago - and his sons were involved in a land-development deal with a New York businessmen who later filed a civil suit accusing them of stealing $1.5 million.
"They were con artists and they scammed me, but I'm surprised he's involved in something like this," said Shalom Cohen, who filed the suit.
Additional reporting by Kaili McDonnough, Tim Bukher and John Doyle