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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Queens Man Sentenced To 15 Years In PrisonFor Attempting To Rob And Extort A Bedford Family

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that BARTEK ZAJKOWSKI, a Polish national, who resided in Queens, New York, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas in White Plains federal court to 15 years in prison, consecutive to any sentence imposed in his pending state case in Connecticut, where he is charged with participating in a home invasion. ZAJKOWSKI’s criminal conduct included the attempted extortion of a family by whom he was previously employed and attempted robbery of them in their home in Bedford, Westchester County, New York.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Bartek Zajkowski became one family’s nightmare of terror and violence. Now, thankfully, the nightmare is over, and we hope his victims can breathe easier. Mr. Zajkowski will be locked up for a long time. The conclusion of this case is a tribute to the cooperative and devoted efforts of law enforcement at every level.”

According to public documents filed in White Plains federal court, and related court proceedings:

ZAJKOWSKI, 23, a Polish citizen living in the United States illegally, had previously worked for a contractor in 2010 at the victims’ residence in Bedford Hills, New York.

On the evening of May 5, 2012, ZAJKOWSKI, dressed in black and armed with a gun, approached the victims’ house. He encountered Victim-1(“the Husband”), bound him with duct tape and plastic ties, and demanded to know where money and valuables were located in the house. The Husband told ZAJKOWSKI that he had expensive paintings and gold and silver items in the residence. ZAJKOWSKI then entered the house, encountered and struggled with Victim-2 (“the Wife”), ultimately shooting her in the stomach with a BB gun. ZAJKOWSKI bound Victim-2 with duct tape and plastic ties, and asked her to direct him to the expensive paintings. After ZAJKOWSKI left the Wife to look for the paintings, she was able to free herself and trigger the house’s alarm. ZAJKOWSKI escaped with no property other than the Husband’s wallet.

Two days later, in the early morning hours of May 7, 2012, ZAJKOWSKI burned down a barn located on the victims’ property. One week later, on May 14, 2012 and May 17, 2012, the victims received two extortion letters from an individual later determined to be ZAJKOWSKI. The letters demanded that the victims pay ZAJKOWSKI $3 million ($1 million for each of their three children) to ensure their family’s safety. In the letters, ZAJKOWSKI also discussed his struggle with the Wife, claimed responsibility for the barn fire, detailed what he had learned about the family through his surveillance of their home, and threatened harm to the victims’ children. ZAJKOWSKI also demanded that the victims deposit the money into a bank account in the Netherlands – a bank account that law enforcement officials later determined to be held by ZAJKOWSKI’s mother’s partner.

On June 1, 2012, the FBI and other law enforcement agents arrested ZAJKOWSKI pursuant to an arrest warrant stemming from a September 2011 home invasion in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Those Connecticut charges are still pending.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s Westchester County Violent Crimes Task Force, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Bedford Police Department, the New York State Police, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the United States Marshals Service, NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Bauer and Michael Gerber are in charge of the prosecution.

Press Release Number: 
Updated May 13, 2015