2 men charged with coercion and theft

Published 1:09 pm Saturday, May 7, 2011

Two men from the Minneapolis area were charged in Freeborn County District Court Friday with attempting to coerce and swindle an Albert Lea business owner and then threatening to kill the man and his family if he called police.

According to court records, Abel Buleyou Zor, 39, of Maple Grove, and Augustin Nortu Jappah, 38, of Minneapolis have each been charged with one count of attempted coercion, one count of terroristic threats and one count of attempted theft by swindle.

Augustin Jappah

The men were arrested Wednesday in Albert Lea.

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Zor is being held on $150,000 unconditional bail or $75,000 conditional bail. As of Friday afternoon, he had not posted bail.

Jappah received a much lower bail of $20,000 without conditions and $5,000 with conditions. He bailed out Friday by posting a bond of $5,000. He agreed to obey the law and be of good behavior, have no contact with the victim, have no firearms, not leave the state, sign a waiver of extradition and check in with court services by telephone twice a week

The men were arrested after the following series of events:

Court records state that on May 3, a detective met with the alleged victim in the case, who complained that on April 19 two men had approached him in his business, a Mexican store, acting as if they had an interest in buying it for $120,000.

Abel Zor

Two days later, the men returned and appeared to be taking an inventory of the store, looking at equipment and taking model numbers. They reportedly lingered in the store for about 20 minutes and then asked to see a tour of the city.

The victim took them around town.

On April 26, according to court documents, Zor reportedly came into the store carrying a box and allegedly told the victim he needed to make $4 million.

He reportedly pulled out two plastic bottles with liquid in them and a tube with white powder.

In a bowl, Zor reportedly mixed the liquid and powder, sandwiched a $20 bill between two pieces of black paper that were treated in the mixture, wrapped them up in foil, put them on the floor and stepped on them. He then washed the pieces of black paper, and they appeared to be $20 bills, according to court records.

After this, Zor reportedly pulled out a handgun and threatened the victim. He showed the victim a list of names and addresses, including some of his sister’s names and addresses. With gun in hand, Zor allegedly warned the victim that he would kill him and his family if he called police, according to court documents.

Zor was ultimately arrested with the victim in his car.

Jappah had reportedly gotten into another car and was later stopped by officers in that car. Officers allegedly found flour, fingernail polish and vinegar in the trunk.

When officers searched the room the two men had rented at Comfort Inn, they found a black suitcase with numerous items, including rubber gloves, plastic bags, tin foil, a mask, duct tape, two large tight stacks of black paper the size of U.S. currency, a safe, a box cutter and two containers with a chemical.

The room had been rented with a false ID.

Both men are expected to appear in court next at 1:30 p.m. May 16.

Attempted coercion and terroristic threats each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Attempted theft by swindle carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.