A 25-year-old man has been kidnapped and held for $75,000 ransom in a Queens, New York garage belonging to a New York Police Department detective.
The man was found, bound with rope and zip ties, in a garage belonging to NYPD detective Ondre Johnson. Johnson claims he is not involved, but was taken into custody and suspended from duty.
The 17-year veteran of the NYPD, a member of a Brooklyn gang investigation unit, is not in prison and is not currently facing any charges.
The unnamed victim claims he was kidnapped at gunpoint by a group of men in front of his home on Friday. He says he was thrown into an SUV, with a t-shirt over his head.
Jason Hutson, one of the kidnappers, said to him, “Don’t try anything funny or I’ll shoot you.”
Apparently another kidnapper then called a relative of the victim, demanding a ransom of $75,000. However, the relative recognized the kidnapper's voice, and called the police.
Police were then able to trace the location of the phone to the home of Officer Johnson in Queens. When the officer opened the door to the police, they were soon able to find the victim tied up in the garage, which is detached from the main house.
However, Johnson denies any involvement in the kidnapping, and claims that he shares his two-family home with his cousin, Hakeem Clark. Johnson says he knew nothing of the kidnapping and further said that he did not use the garage where the victim was found.
When searching the apartment reportedly used by the cousin, police found a safe which contained materials needed to make fake credit cards. Three men, including the police officer's cousin, were charged with kidnapping, attempting to collect a ransom and also criminal possession of a weapon.
Even though the crime took place in Johnson's garage, he was not charged or locked up.
A law enforcement official told the New York Times on Saturday that “A decision was made last night not to lock him up. What you have is an enormous amount of suspicion, but not the hard evidence tying him into it.”
At present, officer Johnson is only facing suspension without pay, pending further investigation.
A source told the NY Daily News, “He’s still not completely off the hook. Something is not right here. They’re going to try to find out what he was doing there and how he knows these guys.”
According to authorities, three men including Clark and two others James Gayle, 27, and Hutson, 27 - were later charged with kidnapping, attempting to collect ransom and criminal possession of a weapon. A fourth man, Alfredo Haughton, 24, was charged with kidnapping.
Clark and Gayle will also face charges for credit card fraud, and Clark and Hutson were arranged on Saturday and are being held without bail. The other two men are awaiting arraignment.
Hutson had previously served seven years in prison for robbery and was released in April this year. Hutson's lawyer, Lester Seidman said, “We deny any involvement.”
The victim claims that he does not know the men involved in the kidnapping and that he has no idea why they targeted him.