BRIDGETON — A Cumberland County grand jury has indicted a half-dozen people in connection with a 2009 extortion-kidnapping plot that saw two victims held at gunpoint for six hours.
Authorities allege the defendants tried to force the return of $165,000 that was invested in a failed concert in Florida.
Listed as defendants in an indictment charging theft by extortion, conspiracy, criminal restraint, making terrorist threats, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon and aggravated assault are:
- Natubhai Patel, 53, and his son, Anil, 27, both of the 2000 block of Indian Drive in Vineland
- Pasquale Federici, 32, of the 700 block of Southeast 16th Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
- Alexis Flores, 20, of the 2100 block of Mays Landing Road in Vineland
- Trupti Cortes, 40, of the 200 block of East High Street in Glassboro, Gloucester County
- Margarito Diaz Jr., 34, of the 200 block of Foster Avenue in Vineland
Officials at the Cumberland County Jail said the Patels, Federici, Flores and Cortes are free on $100,000 bail each. Diaz is free on $60,000 bail.
Authorities allege the Patels hired several “enforcers” to detain the victims — Amir Saleem, formerly of Ocean City, and Michael Murphy, of Southbury, Conn. — in a building on the 600 block of East Chestnut Avenue for six hours in June 2009.
Saleem and Murphy were working with a Florida-based partner to host a concert Memorial Day weekend in Miami featuring rapper Busta Rhymes, police said. The concert netted less money than expected, and the Patels and Cortes demanded their money back, authorities allege.
The Patels and Cortes never received most of the money because Saleem and Murphy contacted authorities within a day of their release and stopped payment on checks and promissory notes.
Authorities arrested the Patels and Cortes in August 2009. They also arrested Flores, Diaz and a 27-year-old Pittsgrove Township, Salem County, resident, Eliseo Villalongo, on Aug. 6 and Sept. 1, 2009. Villalongo was not named in the indictment.
At the time of their arrest, the Patels and their family owned several small businesses that included a convenience store in Glassboro and a gas station in Vineland.
Authorities said the Patels had planned on opening a sneaker store in the East Chestnut Avenue building where Saleem and Murphy allegedly were held.
Contact Thomas Barlas: