Two brothers accused of keeping a worker against his will at a Coastland Center mall store Wednesday told Naples police they did so because they believed the employee was stealing from them.
They demanded the worker pay them $11,000 or he would go to jail. In the end, it was the brothers who landed behind bars.
The dispute occurred around 1 p.m. at the Men’s Palace, a small men’s clothing retailer with stores in Southwest Florida.
One of the brothers, Iyad Ibrahim, 30, of the 500 block of Fifth Street Southwest in Golden Gate Estates, who is a managing partner of the Men’s Palace store in Coconut Point mall, had a .40-caliber pistol in his waistband at the time, the employee, Kelvin Argueta, told police.
However, when police arrived they found the empty gun under a register at the front of the store, and 10 .40-caliber hollow point bullets in Ibrahim’s front pants pocket.
Ibrahim and his brother, Ali Ibrahim, 27, of Fort Myers, who is the managing partner of the Coastland mall store, were each arrested and charged with felony false imprisonment. A man who answered the phone at the Men’s Palace at the Coastland mall Thursday morning declined comment and declined to give his name.
“We’re not going to discuss the situation any further,” he said.
Argueta, who has been employed by the Ibrahim family for about four years at a former Men’s Castle in Bonita Springs, transferred to the Coastland mall location a couple of months back when the Bonita store closed, according to an arrest report. He and Iyad Ibrahim arrived at work around 10 a.m.
Around lunchtime, Iyad Ibrahim asked to speak with Argueta in the back storage room of the store, reports said.
He found Ali Ibrahim waiting for him in the back room. As Iyad Ibrahim blocked the door, Ali Ibrahim told him they had surveillance footage of him stealing money from the Bonita store and estimated their losses at $11,000, reports said. He said if Argueta didn’t pay back the money right away, he would go to jail.
“I swear on the life of my wife and kids, that your family will lose everything,” Ali Ibrahim told Argueta, according to reports, adding, “I should do you old school style, like take you somewhere and (screw) you up.”
Argueta told detectives that he saw Iyad Ibrahim with a pistol in his waistband.
The Ibrahim brothers gave Argueta his cell phone so he could call a friend or relative to obtain $11,000. Argueta ended up calling his sister, speaking to her in Spanish so the brothers could not understand him, and telling her of the situation, reports said. Although Argueta asked his sister not to notify law enforcement, she did anyway.
The Ibrahim brothers told detectives that they never touched or threatened Argueta, and never pointed the gun at him, reports said. Argueta was free to leave at anytime, they said. However, Iyad Ibrahim admitted it was a bad decision to stand by the door of the storage room with a gun in his waistband while trying to coerce an employee to immediately come up with $11,000, reports said.
The brothers said they never reported the theft from the Bonita store to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office because, reports said, they never received a nickel of restitution from the justice system when other thefts occurred.
Ali Ibrahim told detectives that he assumed that if he approached Argueta and threatened him with arrest, Argueta would pay the money back and they could keep the police out of it.
Argueta estimated he was in the storage room for just over an hour.
Connect with Ryan Mills at www.naplesnews.com/staff/ryan-mills/