NEWARK, N.J. – Three individuals from Brooklyn, New York, were charged today in connection with a kidnapping for ransom that left a teenager with stab wounds after a dispute over a drug transaction, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Dennis Reyes Mora, 37, Alexander Cruz, 26, and Cindy Aleman Fernandez, 27, all of Brownsville, Brooklyn, are each charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. They appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court and were detained.
On March 17, 2023, after a failed drug deal in Delaware, Cruz, Reyes, Aleman, and another individual kidnapped the 18-year-old victim, who they drove through New Jersey and held for ransom in the basement of a house in Queens, New York. During the drive, the kidnappers bound the victim with tape and stabbed the victim multiple times. Once they reached the house in Queens, the kidnappers covered the victim’s eyes and bound the victim’s wrists and ankles with tape. While holding the victim captive, the kidnappers tortured the victim, including by running a knife on the victim’s neck, holding a gasoline-soaked rag against the victim’s eyes, burning the victim with cigarettes, and beating the victim. One of the kidnappers also threatened the victim with a gun and rounds of ammunition. Aleman looked on and laughed while the victim was tortured.
The kidnappers ultimately released the victim after the victim’s family, aided by law enforcement, paid a ransom. Before their arrest, the kidnappers tried to cover up their crimes by, among other things, removing and cleaning the seats of the car used in the kidnapping.
The charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping carries a maximum potential penalty of life in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; the Hackensack Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Raymond Guidetti; the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Mark Musella; the Paterson Police Department, under the direction of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety; the Clifton Police Department, under the direction of Chief Thomas Rinaldi; the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Richard Berdnik; and the New York Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Silane of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.