Former Russian mobster, Mani Chulpayev, who authorities believe is directly involved in rapper Lil Phat’s murder, is now claiming he is innocent and was actually working for the FBI.

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Sadley, last year while waiting for his child to be born, rapper Lil Phat (Melvin Vernell III) was gunned down in an Atlanta hospital parking lot.  Police believe he was killed in a murder-for-hire plot over stolen drugs. Five individuals were arrested for the crime including former Russian mobster Mani Chulpayev, former college basketball standout Decensae White and alleged gang member Gary “El Dorado Red” Bradford.

As for the ex-mob member, he's denying having any involvement in Phat's murder, and that the role he played in the case was on the side of the government.  In a recent interview with WSB investigative reporter Jim Strickland, Chulpayev claims he was suppose to gathering info about the drug operation for the FBI.  He even says it's because of his work that case was broke open.

Chulpayev said, “The phone records and everything, they got most of the warrants from the judges was because of me, because I was a reliable source.  So why did they lock him up too?  Chulpayev says he's wondering that same thing adding, “When Dante finally gets under investigation, he disappears, and Mani gets arrested,” said Culpayev. “They were supposed to protect me, not arrest me.” One things for sure, if he was working with the Feds......they aren't claiming him.

This is how police say it all went down.  Chulpayev allegedly provided Lil Phat’s rental car’s GPS info to Decensae White.  Authorities say to former mobster and standout baller had become business partners after White reportedly invested $160,000 into the company.  A police report even reveals that the GPS tracking in the vehicle was retrieved over 20 times.  Many of Chulpayev’s clients were accused drug dealers under federal surveillance.The report also shows that Chulpayev called both the police and his FBI handler, Dante Jackson, after he discovered that one of his cars was used in the crime.  He named both White and Bradford as potential suspects.

However, Chulpayev insisted that White gathered the GPS information on his own and that not only did the FBI, DEA and Secret Service used that same info to bust White and others.  On top of that, their is some indication that Chulpayev was working with somebody on the right side of the law, because reports have surfaced that he called both the police and his FBI handler, Dante Jackson, after he discovered that one of his cars was used in the crime.  He also named both White and Bradford as potential suspects.

Ironically, even though the federal government had access to the GPS tracking, local police did not become aware of the trackers on the car until months after Phat’s murder.  As a matter of fact the Sandy Springs authorities had to pursue a warrant to retrieve the information.

For now, the trial is set to begin in three weeks and Chulpayev is scheduled to testify.