An NYPD veteran detective has been suspended as police investigate his involvement in a bungled kidnapping in which the victim was discovered in the detective’s own garage.
According to the New York Daily News, Ondre Johnson, a 17-year veteran of the force, was taken into custody Friday afternoon outside his Queens home where the kidnapping victim had been discovered. Johnson has not been charged with any crimes, though four other men, including Johnson’s cousin who shares the house with him, have been hit with various charges over the alleged kidnapping and ransom attempt.
The details of the kidnapping paint a picture of terribly inept criminals who left a couple of blatant tips in their wake. According to police, 27-year-old Jason Hutson approached the victim outside his home Friday morning and, at gunpoint, he and another man threw a shirt over the victim’s head and stuffed him in a waiting SUV. That SUV then transported the victim to a single-car garage tucked alongside Johnson’s home. Once there, they bound the victim—whose name has not been released—with zipties and rope.
However, when the kidnappers called the victim’s family demanding a $75,000 ransom, a relative recognized the voice of the kidnapper on the phone. Police were also able to trace the ransom call to a phone inside Johnson’s house, and by Friday afternoon they’d busted the kidnappers.
When police found Hutson, he still had zip ties on him, according to the Daily News. Police also found two safes in the house filled with equipment to make fake credit cards.
Johnson has maintained his innocence, saying that he shares the house with his cousin, Hakeem Clark, and that he has no access to the parts of the house where the safes were found nor the garage. Clark was arrested and charged with kidnapping, attempting to collect ransom, and criminal possession of a weapon, as were Hutson and another man, James Gayle. A fourth accomplice, Alfredo Haughton, was also charged with kidnapping.
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