New Leads in 2005 Cruise Ship Disappearance of Newlywed as FBI's Russian Mafia Team Enters Investigation

It seems like it is open season on Americans on vacation, whether on cruises or staying in beautiful beach side hotels in the Caribbean. Americans seem to be disappearing inexplicably at a large enough rate to make me think I am right about spending my summer vacations in Las Vegas.

One case, from 2005, seems to involve the Russian mafia; at least that is the conclusion drawn by the fact that, as reported by the Mail Online, the FBI's Russian mafia team has joined the investigation and is looking into "whether four young men - among them three Russian-Americans from Brooklyn, New York - were responsible for the 2005 disappearance of newlywed George Smith IV while he was honeymooning aboard a luxury cruise liner in the Aegean Sean."

"Royal Caribbean officials believe Mr Smith, 26, went overboard between Greece and Turkey just 11 days after he and his 25-year-old bride Jennifer Hagel were married in a beautiful New England ceremony.

"Now, Mr Smith's family in Greenwich, Connecticut, says he was the victim of foul play, although cruise officials ruled his death an accident and no one was ever arrested in his death.

George A. Smith IV and Jennifer Hagel
George Smith IV (left) disappeared during a honeymoon cruise on the Aegean Sea with his young bride Jennifer Hagel in 2005.

"The Smith family's lawyer, Michael Jones, claims new documents released by the cruise line cast suspicion on four young men who were last seen escorting a drunken Mr Smith back to his state room cabin in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005.

"Josh Askin, who was a San Diego State University student at the time of the disappearance, failed an FBI lie detector test when interviewed about the events of the night Mr Smith disappeared, Mr Jones told the New York Post.

"Additionally, when Mr Jones gave the student a deposition, he invoked his fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination, Mr Jones said.

"Askin and three other young men -- Rostislav “Rusty” Kofman and cousins Greg and Zachary Rozenberg -- were the last known people to see Mr Smith before he vanished, according to Mr Jones.

"Kofman and the Rozenbergs are naturalized Russian-American citizens who live in Brooklyn, New York.

"'The evidence suggests that Josh Askin and the boys know more than they have let on,' Mr Jones told the Greenwich Time newspaper.

"'It's time for them to come forward and tell what they know about George's disappearance.'"


"Mr Smith, who was from a wealthy family in Greenwich, Connecticut, was on a $10,000 honeymoon cruise package in a stateroom aboard the ocean liner Brilliance of the Sea.

"After he disappeared, suspicion first turned to his young wife Ms Hagel. However, she revealed that she was found passed out in the ship's casino about 4am the day her husband disappeared.

"Crew members hoisted her into a wheelchair and rolled her to her cabin, where she awoke the next morning, she told the New York Times.

"Royal Caribbean later agreed to pay Ms Hagel and Mr Smith's family $1.3 million and turn over all of its documents related to the investigation."

Read full article: New leads in 2005 cruise ship disappearance of newlywed George Smith IV as FBI's Russian mafia team joins investigation