Bannock County Jail employee again charged in connection with death of Olympic speed skater
Documents central to a case accusing a Bannock County detention deputy of exploiting a former Olympic speedskater living in Utah were located inside a secret room, according to court documents the Idaho State Journal obtained Monday.
Prosecutors in Utah’s 3rd District Court charged Marina Billings, 50, of Pocatello, on Thursday with financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult, both second-degree felonies, court records show.
Billings was initially charged with the same two felonies in December 2021 but prosecutors requested additional time to investigate the case and asked for their dismissal this past March.
Billings, who has worked as a detention deputy since July 2014, has again been placed on paid administrative leave with the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, according to Bannock County spokesperson Emma Iannacone.
At the time the initial charges were filed against Billings, her husband Robert Billings also faced identical charges, which were also dismissed this past March. Charges had not been refiled against Robert as of Monday afternoon, according to court records.
Marina is once again accused of exploiting Olympic speedskater Boris Leikin, who died at age 69 on July 6, 2021. Charging documents state that Leiken was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also known as Mad Cow disease, about a month before his death.
According to charging documents and police records obtained by the Journal, the investigation into Marina began in June 2021 when the Cottonwood Heights Police Department received complaints that Leiken was being financially exploited.
Marina met Leiken, who was living in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, in 2020 on a social media platform for people of Russian heritage, court records show. Marina is also a Russian immigrant. She told investigators she first met Liekin in person in the spring of 2020 when he invited her to stay at his home, court records show.
Marina allegedly told Liekin she was married to Robert when Leiken expressed a desire for a romantic relationship with her, court records show. Additionally, Marina told Leikin that Robert was invalid and would soon die from a terminal illness, a neighbor told investigators.
“Marina claimed (Leiken) told her he would respect Robert, didn’t want to hurt him, and would wait until he died to marry her,” court records show. “Marina acknowledged that her relationship with Boris became sexual, but stated she never told Robert because he never asked.”
Prosecutors allege that before Leikin’s death, Marina “created or changed Mr. Leiken’s testamentary documents,” including a will, power of attorney, advance health care directive, trust, and quit claim deed, “resulting in her becoming the administrator and beneficiary of his estate.”
Investigators learned Marina had the documents notarized in May 2021 while Leikin was hospitalized. A nursing assistant accompanied Leikin for the notarization of the documents and noted he was “not at all with it,” according to court records.
Robert told investigators that Marina requested the alteration to Leikin’s documents because Leikin wanted to ensure that his “dependent elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s” would continue to get ongoing care after his death.
Cottonwood Heights police detectives served a search warrant at Marina’s Pocatello home during the investigation, but court records do not indicate when the warrant was served.
Robert was present during the execution of the search warrant and when asked about the testamentary documents said “they were on a computer and (he) did not have any hard copies,” court records show.
Officers located a PVC pipe in the basement ceiling of the home. When asked, Robert said it was to thread wires, according to the charging documents.
“But when officers pulled the wires, it opened a concealed door leading to a hidden room,” the charging documents state. “In the room, officers found Mr. Leiken’s will, power of attorney, advance health care directive, trust, and quit claim deed that were created by Marina and Robert Billings.”
Prosecutors noted in the charging documents that Cherie Brunker, Leiken’s treating physician at the time he passed, described him as being seriously ill and suffering from severe dementia.
From June 4, 2021, until he passed on July 6, 2021, Brunker described Leiken as unable to speak or answer questions and lacking the capacity to express even simple preferences, court records show.
Brunker also noted that Leikin was hospitalized from May 21, 2021, to May 28, 2021, and underwent a mental evaluation that demonstrated he suffered from global cognitive loss due to his dementia. She concluded he did not have the capacity to execute financial decisions during that period of time.
An arrest warrant charging Marina with the two felony charges was issued Thursday. Court records indicate it has not yet been served and she is now wanted.