The twisting tale of a Wayne man allegedly kidnapped by Instagram influencer “Jay Mazini” took another turn when Bergen County authorities charged him with taking a $100,000 bribe to back off his story.
Amjad Mashal, 29, was arrested outside his business in Clifton, where detectives also found drugs, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said Friday.
The trouble began when “Mazini” – whose real name is Jebara Igbarra -- picked up Mashal at the 7-Eleven on Palisade Avenue in Fort Lee on March 15, authorities said at the time.
Igbarra, of Edgewater, had cultivated a reputation for distributing stacks of cash to random people in New York. He’d fallen on hard times, though, after the FBI charged him earlier this year with scamming some of his nearly 1 million followers out of more than $2 million in Bitcoin in exchange for worthless wire transfers.
Mashal had trashed him online, after which Igbarra arranged the meeting on the pretense of wanting to clear the air over coffee, they said.
Mashal got hinky when two of Igbarra's associates got into the 2020 Land Rover, a complaint on file in Superior Court in Hackensack says.
He bolted from the Land Rover and sped off in his own car, but the crew chased Mashal down, beat him and shoved him back into Igbarra's SUV, the complaint says.
They stripped him naked, held a machete to his neck and told Mashal to remove negative social media posts he'd made about Igbarra, it says. They also threatened to kill him if went to the authorities and said a video of the kidnapping would be released to social media if he didn’t do what he was told, according to the complaint.
Then they dropped him and his belongings in the city of Passaic.
Mashal was hospitalized with a concussion, a swollen eye, a left ankle injury and various other bumps, cuts and bruises, authorities said.
Two days later, Musella’s detectives and Fort Lee police -- assisted by a Bergen County Regional SWAT team -- arrested Igbarra. He was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, endangering an injured victim, weapons possession and luring, among other offenses. He remained held in the Bergen County Jail until Aug. 12, when he was released, records show.
Authorities also arrested several alleged accomplices, including Clifton businessman Bassam Patrick Aljanadi, who Musella said repeatedly tried to bribe Mashal into dropping the charges.
Igbarra’s wife, Joumana Danoun, was also taken into custody after authorities considered research into the judge expected to handle the case as a threat. Like Alijanadi – to whom she’s related -- Danoun also tried to convince Mashal to drop the charges, they said.
The case is now being handled in Superior Court in Paterson instead of Bergen County.
The latest wrinkle came with Musella’s announcement Friday of Mashal’s arrest.
Mashal “communicated with a family member of one of the kidnapping defendants,” the prosecutor said. That person “bribed Mashal with approximately $100,000 in consideration for submitting a new sworn statement to the court [that] would result in one of the defendants being released from jail on the kidnapping charges,” he said.
Musella didn’t identify the contact.
Mashal was charged with accepting a bribe and drug possession and was released pending a hearing, the prosecutor said.
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