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On Oct. 23, 2017, the alleged perps burst into Garden Valley Distributors, a grocery wholesaler located on 101st Avenue and 99th Street, demanded money, shot owner Hani Kasem in the face and pistol whipped his son across the head before fleeing empty handed. Kasem later died at Jamaica Hospital.
By Michael V. Cusenza
A Brooklyn man under indictment for the 2017 murder of an Ozone Park business owner was captured on Friday following a long, tense standoff with law enforcement that also saw shots fired inside the fugitive’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens apartment.
Wilbert Bryant, 54, was taken into custody two-and-a-half-hours after officers first knocked on his third-floor apartment’s front door. He entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment in Brooklyn federal court. According to prosecutors, Bryant did not have a bail package to offer and was ordered detained.
On Oct. 23, 2017, three suit-clad crooks burst into Garden Valley Distributors, a grocery wholesaler located on 101st Avenue and 99th Street, demanded money, shot owner Hani Kasem in the face and pistol whipped his son across the head before fleeing empty handed. Kasem, 64, lingered on life support at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for several days before succumbing to his injuries.
According to charging documents, Bryant, Dwayne Ling, 55, and Frederick McCoy, 52, were the alleged blazer-wearing perpetrators. They declared to Kasem and his 32-year-old son that “Sam” or “Big Sam” had sent them to collect his money. Ppassim Elder, 38, who was known as “Sam” and “Big Sam,” had given the murder victim’s son a loan, which the son used to support the business. By March 2017, Elder demanded full repayment of the loan, but the son could not afford to repay it because much of the money had been used to purchase merchandise for Garden Valley.
In response, according to the indictment, Elder began a campaign of intimidation against Kasem’s son and his family. Among other things, Elder paid another man to throw a rock through a window of the home of the son and his father. When the rock did not lead to repayment of the loan, Elder sent the treacherous trio into Garden Valley on that Monday in October.
“When criminals loan money to business owners, they know they’re never going to get repaid, it’s why they loan out the money,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation NY Assistant Director-in-Charge Bill Sweeney. “No one should have to pay criminals with their life,”
Bryant has been charged with extortionate collection of credit conspiracy, extortionate collection of credit, unlawful use and possession of firearms, and causing death through use of a firearm. If convicted, the minimum sentenced he could receive is 10 years in prison; the maximum sentence is life in prison.