Convicted Viktor Bout accomplice Richard Chichakli has been declared mentally competent in his effort to challenge his 2013 federal conviction on money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy charges.
In his Aug. 8 ruling that Chichakli had acted competently during his trial, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III turned aside claims by Chichakli’s court-appointed lawyer that the defendant could not handle his own affairs. A psychiatrist hired by the lawyer testified that Chichakli “suffers from an unspecified psychotic disorder and evidences paranoid and grandiose delusional thinking.”
In his ruling, the judge also reported that at one point in his earlier dealings with prosecutors, Chichakli had offered to provide the government with information on Bout, but the negotiations broke down. “Chichakli contacted law enforcement, offered to provide information on Viktor Bout, and was sent proffer agreements,” Pauley wrote.
Dr. Eric Goldsmith, a forensic psychiatric hired by Mitchell Dinnerstein, Chichakli’s court-appointed lawyer, said Chichakli delusions include the belief that the government was trying to silence him and that U.S. officials had rendered him to Syria as retribution. Chichakli had previously insisted on mounting his own defense, and Dinnerstein insisted he was not legally competent.
Pauley acknowledged that Chichakli appeared stubborn and frustrated during his trial. The judge said he had to admonish Chichakli not to yell in the courtroom. At one point, as Chichakli rose to make a point, Pauley said he was “doing a 360 at the podium with his arms raised as if he is in the flamenco.”
But Pauley said Chichakli’s stance resulted more from “hubris” than delusion. “He has demonstrated that he is both capable and competent throughout the proceedings,” the judge wrote.