Queens Man Accused of $3M Extortion Plot in Bedford

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued an arrest warrant for Bartek Zajkowski who allegedly attempted to rob a Bedford couple, set fire to their barn and demand $3 million in exchange for the safety of their children.

A Bedford home invasion that was part of a plot that attempted to get a couple there to pay $3 million in extortion money, according to new charges filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation this week.

Bartek Zajkowski, 22, of Queens, NY, is accused of attacking and robbing Leonardo LeBrun and his wife, Lara LeBrun, residents of Broad Brook Road, and threatening to harm their children if they did not wire money into a bank account in the Netherlands, according to testimony from FBI Special Agent Brendan Kenney.

Zajkowski, whom investigators said used to work on the LeBrun's property, is already being held on felony burglary charges in connection with a home invasion last fall in Connecticut, according to Herbert Hadad, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

On May 5, Zajkowski approached the LeBrun residence wearing a mask, carrying a handgun and speaking with an Eastern European accent, according to Kenney's statements. After he asked LeBrun what valuables were in the house, Zajowski bound LeBrun's hands and feet with plastic ties, sealed his mouth with duct tape and took his license and credit cards.

He entered the home, engaged in a scuffle with LeBrun's wife—shooting her in the stomach with a BB gun—and took the earrings and a necklace she was wearing. He then bound her hands and feet and asked her where the most expensive paintings were kept. After he left the room, she was able to free herself, call 911 and set off the home's alarm system.

Zajkowski fled the home before police arrived.

On the morning of May 7, a was destroyed in a fire that local law enforcment described to investigators as "suspicious."

The federal complaint also describes two letters sent to the family following the robbery and fire, demanding a $3 million payment in order to keep each of their three children safe from harm.

"I know where you live...what you do and what your entire family looks like. If you want your kids to be safe you will pay one million for each one...if you don't pay someone will be taken and price will go up," the letter writer allegedly said.

Investigators said the letter also gave details about the children's routines including what time one of them arrived home from school. Additionally, the correspondence referred to the barn fire, saying "your wife should let me do my thing. For that she should consider her horses very lucky that they didn't fry in the barn."

The correspondence gave them five days to pay the $3 million and provided detailed instructions on where to wire the money in the Netherlands and how to notify the writer when the money was deposited.

Investigators were able to obtain Zajkowski's fingerprints from a bag he dropped at the Bedford Hills residence—which they later matched to prints taken by the Stamford Police Department in 2010—and found out that he was charged for an attempted home invasion in Ridgefield, CT in Sept. 2011.

They located Zajkowski at his Queens apartment in June, arrested him for the Ridgefield incident and confiscated several items including BB pellets, duct tape and laptop computers containing maps and images of the area around the LeBrun residence in Bedford Hills.

Check back with Patch for updates to this story.


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