Smith family ‘ecstatic’ over FBI jurisdiction change

The New York office of the FBI has officially taken over the investigation into the cruise ship death of Greenwich resident George Smith in 2005.

The investigation was being handled by the bureau’s New Haven office, but the Smith family told the Post last week that they are heartened by the news, hoping it will lead to a break in the case. Mr. Smith, who was on his honeymoon at the time, disappeared from a Royal Caribbean cruise in the Aegean Sea in July 2005 and over the past eight years his parents and sister have been seeking justice. Mr. Smith was 26 years old at the time of his disappearance.

“We were ecstatic when we heard that the New York FBI field office will now investigate the murder of our son and brother George,” said George, Maureen and Bree Smith, the parents and sister, in a statement to the Post. “Additionally, the New Haven FBI field office has agreed to relinquish its control of George’s murder investigation. Our attorney Mike Jones has spearheaded our efforts to move the case from Connecticut to New York for the past several years. Finally, our lawyer’s tireless efforts have resulted in this important change of jurisdiction.”

The move in the jurisdiction is considered significant because the family feels new eyes can lead to the elusive break they’ve been seeking and potentially to arrests.

“We believe that agents taking a fresh look at the evidence will reinvigorate the investigation into who murdered George,” the Smiths said. “Having the murder investigation based in the New York FBI field office makes perfect sense because two of the four men last seen with George reside in New York. Given the extensive amount of evidence that has been accumulated to date, and with fresh sets of eyes looking at that evidence, we believe that the arrest of George’s murderer(s) is inevitable.”

Mr. Jones also welcomed the news, describing it as “very exciting … I’m very pleased.”

The New York FBI field office is bigger than the New Haven office, Mr. Jones said, and two of the four men last seen with George Smith on the night he went missing, Rusty Kofman and Zach Rozenberg, both live in the New York area. The other men are Josh Askin, from California, and Greg Rozenberg, who served a three-year sentence in Florida state prison for trafficking the narcotic oxycodone in the years following the tragic cruise.

Earlier this month, the CBS news magazine show 48 Hours presented an investigation into the George Smith case, claiming to show some new information about the actions of the four men after Mr. Smith’s disappearance on the ship.

According to Mr. Jones, the men videotaped themselves hours after Mr. Smith vanished, making callous and joking statements about his disappearance, and Mr. Jones also claims their statements are “incriminating.” At one point in the video, which has not been viewed by the Post but rather described by Mr. Jones, Greg Rozenberg stands up and announces, “I told you I was gangsta,” according to Mr. Jones.

The videotape is currently in the hands of the FBI. The four men last seen with Mr. Smith have legal representation and their attorneys were interviewed for the 48 Hours piece. Several did not respond to requests for comment from the Post in time for the deadline of this week’s edition. Florida attorney Albert Dayan, who represents Mr. Kofman, could not be reached for comment.

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