By Stephen M. Silverman
September 19, 2003 10:40 AM

A 31-year-old Swiss national, accused by police of approaching L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant with a $3 million offer to kill the 19-year-old Colorado woman accusing the athlete of rape, was arrested on Thursday after he was turned in by Bryant’s security team, reports Reuters.

Patrick Graber, residing in Southern California on an expired visa and claiming to be a member of the Russian Mafia, was taken into custody after accepting a bag full of money from undercover officers and pledging to kill Bryant’s accuser, according to Los Angeles Sheriff’s Lt. Jim Taylor.

Bryant, 25, stands accused of sexual assault on a concierge at a Colorado luxury resort where he stayed in late June. He claims the sexual act was consensual.

Taylor said Graber, who calls himself “Yuri” — and is described as a physically imposing bodybuilding coach with a shaved head — sent a letter to the hoops star saying he could solve Bryant’s “problem.” Graber reputedly promised to do the deed within a week and provide photographic evidence of the act.

Bryant’s security staff intercepted the letter and contacted authorities, Taylor said. He also explained that the money in the bag was fake and provided by a Hollywood movie studio.

“He was soliciting them to commit a murder, through the mail,” Taylor told Reuters, adding that police believed Graber seriously intended to carry out the offer.

“He could make her not come to court, he could make her disappear, he could make her have a drug overdose. He was specific in that manner,” Taylor said.

Attorneys for Bryant’s accuser were not immediately available for comment on the arrest, though authorities say the accuser and her family had been informed of the situation with Graber.