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| Crime |

Brian J. Weiss, South Florida Scammer, Killed In NYC As Police Investigate Mob Ties

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Last Thursday, a 31-year-old named Brian J. Weiss was holding a meeting in a Hilton hotel near Kennedy International Airport when a man pulled out a .380 Baretta and shot him five times in the head. That man, Gary Zalevsky, then killed himself as four others in the room dove for cover. 

The brutal crime, which has made waves in NYC, hasn't hit the papers in Miami just yet. But investigators this morning say the trail leading to Weiss's murder leads right back to South Florida, where the victim ran a fraudulent dietary supplement company -- and where he may have gotten on the wrong side of the Russian mob.

"We're not ruling anything out, but right now we simply don't know," New York's police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, tells the New York Times.

Here's what police do know about Weiss: He was president of a Hollywood-based company called FWM Laboratories that raked in cash by promising customers "free" samples of wrinkle creams and diet pills, and then billing them monthly for shipments they never ordered.

The company amazingly racked up more than 4,000 complaints with Florida's Better Business Bureau. Then, in 2009, Florida's deputy attorney general, Robert Hannah, ordered FWM to repay $34 million to slighted customers.

Local 10 talked to consumers in 2009 who had been ripped off in the scam and reported that a dumpster behind the company's office was full of returned orders from around the country. 

(Weiss also racked up federal lawsuits over the firm, including one by celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz, who claimed he was using his image without permission, the Times reports.)

Which is all a long way of saying that New York detectives have a hell of a list of suspects who may have felt slighted by Weiss.

But police are considering a Russian mob angle to the killing, Kelly says. The names of the other men in the meeting haven't been released, but all live in South Florida and all were heard speaking a language that may have been Russian.

The men have since hired lawyers and aren't giving police much to work with, the Times reports.

"The story is, supposedly, there was some discussion about establishing some sort of vitamin or food supplement business," Kelly tells the paper. "We're trying to determine, precisely, what the nature of the dispute was and what the business relationship was."

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