New York contractor says gun-toting restaurateur kidnapped him over unfinished renovations

An off-the-books contractor in New York City has claimed that the owner of a Brooklyn restaurant kidnapped him at gunpoint last week and forced him to remain in the owner's house for two nights after a dispute over unfinished renovations.

An NYPD source confirmed details of a kidnapping complaint by Venacio Julajuj, 32, which was first reported Wednesday by the Daily News.

Julajuj told the paper that he was paid $25,000 up front to renovate the restaurant, but used the advance to fund another project. On Thursday, May 16, the restaurant owner told Julajuj to meet him in Midtown Manhattan. After the contractor balked at a $15,000 offer to start the job, the unidentified owner and a friend forced him to get on the subway to Brooklyn.

The police source said the restaurant owner allegedly demanded $25,000 in cash, which the source described as "in effect, ransom." Juljajuj told the Daily News that the owner made him call his brother, Gustavo, and his friends to get the money.

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"He took my ID, my passport and my phone," Julajuj told the paper. "Then he showed me the gun. He said today is your last day. I saw five bullets in the gun. He asked me where I lived and where my wife was. I wouldn’t give it to him. I told him this deal is between you and me."

Julajuj said the restaurant owner kept him in his house Thursday with his limbs bound. He was allegedly fed water, a banana, potatoes and a Snickers bar.

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The contractor's brother and his sometime-boss reported his disappearance to police on Friday; Julajaj told the Daily News that officers visited the owner's home on Saturday morning while he was still inside.

"I couldn’t say nothing," Julajuj put it. "He had the gun."

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Shortly after police left, the restaurant owner released Julajuj, telling him he was getting "another chance to finish the job."

The police source said Julajuj sustained minor bruising and scrapes but required no medical attention. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

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