A former Baltimore County resident serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery in federal prison has been named as a suspect in the death of his mother, who was visiting from Russia, a Baltimore County Police Department spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Dmitry Yuryevich Pronin, 26, who pleaded guilty in June to robbery and a handgun charge in connection with a bank holdup in Wilmington, Del., has not been charged in his mother's death, but police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said that "the son is the suspect in the case."
Armacost said the investigation is continuing, complicated because county investigators are working with Russian authorities.
The police announced Wednesday that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner had ruled that the death of 54-year-old Yulia Pogrebenko was a homicide, but no specific cause was disclosed. In August, the medical examiner identified remains that had been found in the Chesapeake Bay two months earlier as those of Pogrebenko.
Pogrebenko had been missing since Feb. 23, when she flew into John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Baltimore County police said in the spring that she had rented a car at the airport and planned to drive to Maryland to visit her son. A police spokesman said she had called a family member to say she was about an hour from Baltimore but had not been heard from since. Police said they found her rented car, a 2010 Chevy Malibu, in the Baltimore area.
Armacost said Wednesday that police were not releasing details about where the car was found or whom Pogrebenko called on Feb. 23.
Documents filed in the federal armed-robbery case reveal some details about the circumstances surrounding Pogrebenko's disappearance, and about her son, who also has faced state criminal charges in Maryland, according to court records. Federal prison records show that he is serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ray Brook, N.Y., in the holdup that occurred at a Wilmington shopping center on March 5.
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In arguing in September for a maximum sentence, the federal prosecutor's office in Delaware noted that at the time Pronin was arrested March 14 by Baltimore County police on a fugitive warrant, his mother had been a "missing person" since she entered the United States. The document says that after Pronin "denied to investigators having seen his mother after she entered the United States, her passport, with which she entered the United States, and her credit cards were found in his apartment."
The document says Pronin "refused" to explain to police how he got the passport.
Another document filed by prosecutors says that when Pronin was arrested in Maryland, he had in his possession the same car that his mother had rented from Avis at JFK on Feb. 23. The document says that a witness' description of the getaway car used in the bank robbery matches the Avis car.
State court records show that when the fugitive warrant was issued for Pronin's arrest, he was living in an apartment in the 1000 block of Maiden Choice Lane in Catonsville. State records also show that he had been charged in March 2010 with a second- and third-degree sex offense, assault and making threats. After his arrest a year later, these charges were placed on the "stet," or inactive docket, meaning they could be brought back and set for trial within three years.
Also in March 2010, records show, an Owings Mills woman filed a charge of domestic violence and for annulment or divorce from Pronin. The divorce was granted a year later, but the status of the domestic-violence charge was unclear.
The federal court documents portray an emotionally troubled man who "came to the United States in order to study and try and build a better life." He arrived in May 2008 on a work visa that was adjusted to a student visa. A document filed before he was sentenced in federal court says he had been "very depressed" here, and that he carried out the robbery "as an adrenaline rush to sort of snap himself out of his depression. Mr. Pronin realizes that his actions have only made matters worse."