FBI unseals records in man’s 2003 offer to kill Kobe Bryant rape accuser

A man boldly offered to undercover officers in 2003 that he could make Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s highly publicized Colorado rape case “go away” by killing the accuser for $3 million, according to an unsealed FBI investigative report released last week.

The heavily redacted 17-page document does not identify the suspect, but says he had a California driver’s license and claimed to be a Swiss national.

That description matches Patrick Graber, a Swiss bodybuilder who was 31 at the time and living in El Segundo. Graber was arrested on Sept. 18, 2003, by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents while trying to collect the first $1 million payment in the murder-for-hire plot.

Graber attempted to reach for a bag full of movie studio prop money in a car, after which he was surrounded by more than 30 officers in the parking lot of an El Segundo supermarket. At the time, he had been in the United States for about two years on an expired visa, authorities said.

Graber allegedly claimed he was involved in organized crime, possibly the Russian mafia, and used the name “Yuri” in his dealings with undercover officers.

However, detectives did not have any evidence that Graber had those ties, officials said. A search warrant was served at his residence and firearms were found.

Graber pleaded no contest to grand theft in 2004 after prosecutors dropped several charges, including solicitation to commit murder. He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to be deported following his release.

Bryant was arrested in July 2003 after a 19-year-old employee at The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, a hotel near Vail, Colorado. accused him of raping her in his hotel room. Bryant, who was in Colorado to undergo knee surgery, said the sexual encounter was consensual and the criminal case was dropped after the woman refused to testify.

The woman later settled a civil suit against Bryant out of court.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died on Jan. 26, 2020, after their helicopter crashed into a hillside in the Calabasas area northwest of Los Angeles.

The criminal investigation involving the Swiss national began after Bryant’s bodyguards received a letter in a FedEx envelope detailing the offer, according to the FBI report.

An undercover Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detective met with the suspect twice and recorded him saying he had a team that could “execute Bryant’s accuser leaving no evidence,” according to the documents.

The FBI interviewed neighbors, a celebrity bodyguard and others who knew the suspect.

One person told the FBI on Oct. 2, 2003, the suspect was a member of a Gold’s Gym in Venice where Bryant also trained. The witness also he was “ninety-nine percent sure (the suspect) had not run into Bryant at Gold’s Gym when he trained.”

A neighbor reported to the FBI seeing the suspect unloading a large cardboard box from his car that displayed a “Winchester” or “Remington” label that he believed contained a shotgun or rifle.

“(The neighbor) did not know (the suspect) well enough to joke with him, but asked if he was going to shoot him with that,” says the report. “(The suspect) appeared to think the comment was funny and chuckled.”

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