MOSCOW, March 5 - RAPSI. Russian citizen Nikola Garifulin, who has been accused of taking part in the theft of $3 million from the bank accounts of individuals and legal entities in the United States, has submitted to the court an application to set a term equal to the one he has already spent in custody.

He earlier admitted having taken part in bank fraud. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York will read the sentence on March 9.

According to the documents, Garifulin faces up to two years and nine months in prison. His defense attorney has asked to sentence him to a term equal to the one he has already spent in custody. Garifulin has spent one year and four months in prison.

Garifulin, 23, has pleaded guilty and stated that he will abstain from any further criminal activity. His attorney noted that his client is a professional economist who wants to return to Russia and continue his education after his sentence is read.

The U.S. Prosecutor General's Office and the FBI announced in September 2010 that they had uncovered a criminal network comprising immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Most of the suspects were aged 20-26. They came to the United States on student visas. All of them were suspected of being involved in the embezzlement of funds from U.S. bank accounts.

Investigators maintain that the suspects cracked bank accounts through virus software and then transferred the funds to other accounts. The funds were then withdrawn abroad.

On average, the suspects transferred $10,000 each time, according to the court documents. Generally speaking, they took 8-10 percent of the transaction amount and the remaining sum was distributed among the members of the criminal gang.

The suspects were also accused of collusion in committing bank fraud, money laundering, forging documents, using fake immigration documents, and the illegal use of personal data.

Garifulin was accused of taking part in the collusion to commit bank fraud. He pleaded guilty in September.

Most of the suspects have already been convicted. However, their sentence turned out to be milder than the prosecution requested. In most cases, the court obligated the accused to pay the victims the amount of the incurred damages.

In particular, the court recovered $21,000 from Russian citizen Marina Misyura in 2010. Russian citizen Dmitry Saprunova will have to pay back to the fraud victims $14,000. Ilya Karasev will have to pay almost $60,000.

One of the harshest sentences was passed against Kasum Adigyuzelov. He was sentenced to four years in prison last May. He will also have to pay about $284,000.