Three of the four men charged in the June 2012 killing of rapper Lil Phat are in custody, and one of them has ties to the Russian mafia. Russian mobster Mani Chulpayev is accused of hiring hit men to kill the rapper, reportedly to silence him about shady car deals, according to a report by Atlanta’s Channel 2 News.

As previously reported, last June, the Trill Entertainment rapper was sitting in the parking deck of a North Atlanta hospital anticipating the birth of his child when he was shot several times. Now authorities are calling his murder a contract killing carried out at the orders of Chulpayev. According to the report, Chulpayev is accused of dealing in stolen cars and Phat was one of his customers, having leased a BMW SUV and the high end Audi he was killed in from the dealer. According to police, Phat, born Melvin Vernell III, went to the authorities only two days prior to his murder and told them he got the cars from Chulpayev. The motive for his death may have been to silence the rapper. “I termed it an assassination,” said Fulton County district attorney, Paul Howard. “He was stalked by these hit men. It was planned.”

According to Chulpayev’s lawyer George Plumides his client is innocent and the prosecutors have no evidence against him. “Mani had nothing against this kid, and grieved when he found out he got killed,” he told reporters. “They put him out of business and they have nothing.”

Check out the news clip, below.