Feb. 1, 2024 By Bill Parry
Three New Jersey men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for kidnapping and viciously torturing an Astoria man in a 2022 extortion attempt.
Jarrett Bruce, 40, of Englewood, N.J. was arrested on Thursday, one day after Aasim Boone, 41, also of Englewood, was taken into custody by federal agents, while the third defendant, 38-year-old Lesly Valentin of Asbury Park was already arrested and held in custody pending trial.
All three men have been charged with one count of kidnapping conspiracy in a superseding indictment unsealed in Brookly federal court on Thursday. Valentin has also charged with one count of transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort.
As set forth in court filings, Boone, Bruce and Valentin conspired to kidnap the victim on Dec. 9, 2022.
After forcing the victim into a vehicle at gunpoint, the assailants drove him from Astoria to New Jersey where he was subjected to escalating forms of torture and held for nearly five hours. The defendants allegedly beat the man with a gun, poured bleach on him, and burned his back and legs with a blow torch. They also sliced the victim’s ear with a knife.
“As alleged, the crimes in this case are very disturbing,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “The defendants targeted an unsuspecting victim, abducted him outside of his home and subjected him to unimaginable cruelty — all in their efforts for financial gain.”
The victim was eventually released on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. A few days after he was abducted, one of the defendants — Valentin — sent text messages to the victim threatening further harm to him and his family if he failed to pay the defendants $150,000 in cash and 50-pounds of marijuana, according to the indictment.
“A victim subjected to kidnapping, brutal beatings, inhumane torture, and cash demands — this not a plot from a movie — these three defendants allegedly conspired and carried out these despicable acts on their target,”FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge James Smith said. “The alleged actions of Boone, Bruce, and Valentin are disturbing and will not be tolerated. FBI New York is determined to ensure brazen individuals willing to use inconceivable violence for financial gain are brought to justice.”
The defendants are no strangers to law enforcement and have extensive criminal histories, and are believed to have participated in a series of residential burglaries committed by a violent street gang operating out of New Jersey, prosecutors said.
Valentin had also previously pleaded guilty in New Jersey state court to aggravated assault in connection with a prior kidnapping.
“My office will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the victim here receives justice and that our community is safe from these senseless acts of violence,” Peace said.
If convicted of kidnapping conspiracy, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.