A Swiss bodybuilder living in Southern California told late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant that for $3 million, he’d get rid of the young Colorado woman who accused him of raping her in July 2003, recently unsealed FBI documents detail.
In a letter 31-year-old Patrick Graber FedExed to Bryant’s home after the charges became public, he offered to “make Bryant’s problem with respect to the sexual assault case go away for a fee,” according to a Sept. 2003 FBI interview report, known internally as a “302.”
Bryant’s security team brought the solicitation to Bryant’s lawyer, who in turn contacted the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD). The Sheriff’s Department escalated the case to its Organized Crime Unit, and brought in the FBI, the heavily redacted documents state. They then set up a “controlled meeting” with Graber, during which Graber—who said his name was “Yuri” and that he was connected to the Russian mafia—reiterated his proposal and said he could “go all the way” to neutralize Bryant’s accuser. Cops ran “Yuri’s” license plate number and checked cell phone records to identify him as Graber, which was confirmed by an employee at the Mail Boxes Etc. location where Graber initially mailed his letter to Bryant.
Three LASD deputies and one FBI agent then traveled to Colorado to inform Bryant’s accuser that her life could be in danger.
“The plan for the next 180 days includes a rapid attempt to conduct another meet with [redacted] and then set up a money drop for the intended murder or intimidation of the witness,” the 302 explains. “[Redacted] is asking for $3 million and is expecting the deal to be [redacted].”
A few months earlier, Bryant was accused of raping a hotel employee in Colorado, where the Lakers shooting guard was staying while he underwent knee surgery. Bryant maintained the encounter had been consensual, and charges were dropped when his accuser refused to testify. The two later reached a civil settlement, and Bryant apologized without admitting guilt. Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
On Sept. 18, 2003, agents interviewed an unnamed woman in California about Graber. Although the names and identifying details are redacted, the woman appears to be someone who knew Graber well.
“[Redacted] stated that [redacted] was a financial analyst who worked from home and a body guard [sic] for celebrities,” says the report. “[Redacted] stated that she did not know anything about [redacted] business, his clients, or what it was he did for them.”
When agents told the woman what they suspected Graber was up to, she “stated that she did not believe it was true,” the report continues. The woman claimed not to know much about the rape accusations against Bryant beyond what she had seen on TV, and said Graber had never mentioned anything about it to her.
Other associates of Graber’s the FBI interviewed also expressed disbelief over the accusations. Graber was arrested by the LASD and FBI the same day, as he arrived at a supermarket to pick up what he thought was an upfront payment of $1 million, with the other $2 million to come after the murder-for-hire was completed. Cops placed Graber in handcuffs as he opened a satchel filled with prop money. Investigators reportedly found an unspecified number of firearms during a search of Graber’s residence.
Prosecutors ultimately dropped the solicitation to commit murder charge, which could have sent Graber to prison for more than nine years. Graber, whose name is redacted in the FBI report, pleaded no contest to grand theft in 2004. He was deported back to Switzerland after he completed a three-year sentence. Graber did not respond to an email from The Daily Beast seeking comment on Thursday. His defense attorney in the case, Peter Knecht, died in 2014.
“I think he’s a little bit naive and not very swift,” Knecht told CNN in 2003, following Graber’s arrest. “He’s not the most intelligent guy in the world.”
Prosecutors justified the deal by describing Graber as less a killer than a conman.
“His main goal was to get money,” Deputy District Attorney Marguerite Rizzo said after the agreement was finalized. “We felt this was an appropriate plea in this case.”
Little is known about Graber, who self-published a book in 2007 titled, Dead Women Tell No Tales: Who Planned the Murder of the Witness in the Kobe Bryant Rape Case. In it, Graber describes himself as a one-time employee of Bryant’s—an unverified claim that has previously been met with skepticism—who was somehow set up as a patsy:
“In his new shocking and absolutely graphic expose, Bryant’s former bodyguard and Swiss national Lt. Patrick Graber is sending shockwaves through the sports world,” says the book’s sloppily-edited Amazon page. “Dead Women Tell No Tales in [sic] Graber's unvarnished account of his time with Bryant, first as a descreet [sic] bodyguard, then as the fall guy who was accused—then cleared—of planning the mruder [sic] of the witness in Braynt’s [sic] rape case. Part memoir detailing his days spent in service guarding the president of an African nation and Swiss black ops trooper, part graphis repository og [sic] his time with Kobe, Dead Women Tell No Tales is an absolutley [sic] page turner. It gives insight into the basketball superstar’s most intimate surroundings, clearly showing how Bryant's immoral behavior inevitably culminated in a felony charge that could have sent him behind bars for life.”