New York Daily News: By John Annese –A trio of robbers made a Staten Island store owner’s life a “living hell,” brandishing a machine gun and threatening to hurt his family if he didn’t fund their life of rental cars, hotel rooms and high-end fashion, the feds allege.
The trio, who were all busted on federal charges, siphoned more than $11,000 from the 60-year-old store owner — forcing him to drive them to stores and hotels where they’d spend his money, according to federal prosecutors.
One of the men gleefully posted photos on Instagram of his ill-made purchases, showing off the forged signatures he used to buy Burberry and Louis Vuitton clothes from Macy’s, according to a federal complaint.
The ordeal was part of the reason the unnamed store owner went out of business earlier this year, law enforcement sources said.
“Through intimidation and threats to [the victim] and his family, including brandishing a weapon, the defendants repeatedly used [him] as their personal ATM,” federal prosecutors wrote.
Trouble first walked through the storeowner’s door in 2020, though he didn’t yet know it. That’s when he first met brothers Jahseem and Gerome Jackson, 21 and 22, through Kiernan Todzia, a friend of the victim’s nephew, federal prosecutors say.
Court filings are vague about the type of business the victim operated. The owner “obtained supplies and items from states other than New York to operate the store, and he had customers traveling from New Jersey and elsewhere to purchase or place custom orders at the store,” prosecutors said.
The owner agreed to do a different kind of business that day in 2020. He let the Jackson brothers rent two vehicles under his name in exchange for $700 on top of the rental costs, prosecutors said.
He didn’t see the brothers again until February 2022, when the Jacksons and Todzia showed up at the store.
The Jacksons told him they’d been in jail for the past two years, then they zeroed in on his credit card machine, prosecutors said.
“Do you know how much money you can make with this?” one of the brothers said. They offered to run a scam using the credit card machine, but the victim told them he wasn’t interested.
A few days later, the storeowner walked in to find the trio already there. Gerome Jackson put a debit card into the machine, charged $10,000 without buying anything, then claimed he was returning an item he just purchased and demanded a refund, prosecutors allege.
The owner didn’t go along, and the two brothers started to argue, with one of them waving what looked like a red-painted machine gun at the other. When they demanded his money, the owner gave up his credit cards.
A whirlwind few weeks of threats followed. The trio returned for more credit cards, threatening the owner’s wife if he didn’t give them what they wanted, the feds allege.
They made him drive to three hotels in New Jersey and pay for their room and forced him to take them to a car rental near Newark International Airport and rent them a BMW 530, according to court documents.
When the victim’s credit cards were declined at a clothing store on Canal St. in Chinatown on March 5 the Jacksons blew up in anger, smashing the victim’s car while he watched in horror, the feds allege.
They threatened to kill him and said they’d pay a visit to his daughter, and at one point a man in a ski mask got into the back seat, twirling a knife, according to prosecutors.
The victim got his bank to reactivate the credit card.
The ordeal came to a tense end in March, after the trio took a road trip to Florida in one of the cars rented under the victim’s name.
Gerome Jackson was pulled over in Daytona Beach and arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto — leading his brother to call the victim and curse him out, blaming him for the arrest, according to court filings.
Gerome Jackson also managed to get an associate to text the victim, demanding he pay off Jackson’s bond. “Rome been trying to call you. Wanted to know wassup. He said why you not answering your phone. He knows all your where about…and where you lay your head at,” the texts read.
Gerome Jackson wound up being brought to New York to face a gun charge in Manhattan. He was sentenced to two years in state prison in that case.
Todzia and Jahseem Jackson were arrested by federal authorities Thursday. Both were ordered held without bail by a Brooklyn Federal Court judge.
Top Feature Photo: Surveillance footage from Macy’s shows Jahseem Jackson (circled in green), Gerome Jackson (circled in red) and Kiernan Todzia (circled in yellow), according to federal prosecutors – UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK