A Rochelle Park police officer rescued a man who was kidnapped from a local motel by two Passaic County men after an accomplice fled with their money in a scam gone wrong, authorities said.
Amady Kourouma, 31, of New York and a partner convinced the two Passaic County men that they could earn $60,000 by purchasing “dirty” money from them that had been dyed to avoid detection by authorities, Detective Lt. James DePreta said.
“Black money washing” is a popular scam. Victims are less likely to report it given their participation in an apparent crime, authorities say.
In this case, Jairo Mendez, 28, of Passaic and Cody Cordero, 27, of Paterson showed up at the Ramada Inn off the Garden State Parkway Thursday night with $20,000 to buy the “black money,” DePreta said.
Kourouma’s partner fled with the cash when the two realized it was a scam, so they grabbed him as a hostage “with hopes of reimbursement,” the lieutenant said.
As it turned out, Police Chief Dean Pinto had assembled a team of officers to assemble quality of life issues in the township.
Officer Nick Mercoun was nearing the end of his shift on the detail when he noticed the Passaic County duo's vehicle being operated erratically on West Passaic Street, DePreta said.
The officer pulled them over just as the alert of a hotel kidnapping was broadcast, he said.
Mercoun, assisted by State Police troopers, Maywood police and fellow township officers assigned to the detail, found one of the suspects driving, DePreta said.
The other was in the back seat with Kourouma, who was bleeding from the mouth, he said.
Kouroma told them what happened and the officers took all three into custody.
They also seized stacks of black paper notes and powdered chemicals and liquids that had been used to create the ruse, DePreta said.
Cordero and Mendez were sent to the Bergen County Jail to await first appearances in Central Judicial Processing Court in Hackensack on charges of kidnapping, carjacking, assault and possession of property derived from criminal activity.
Kourouma was charged with theft by deception and released on a summons.
Assisting were DePreta, Detective Chris Bermudez, Officers Jared Shatkin, Brian Cobb, Ryan Burke, Chris Saldivia and Brian Gallina and Sgt. Doug Arendacs.
Pinto thanked Maywood and State Police for their assistance, and praised his officers for a "quality arrest and investigation."
In just a seven-hour period beginning Thursday at 4 p.m., Pinto’s quality-of-life detail not only nabbed the suspects in the black money scam.
Overall, the special detail produced 20 summonses, as well as drug charges in two instances, following eight traffic stops and the investigations of four suspicious vehicles, three suspicious people and one suspicious occurrence, the chief said.
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