A Bel Air man is charged with two counts of assault and one count of false imprisonment in a bizarre extortion scheme which, at one point, led police to investigate an alleged kidnapping at the Wal-Mart store in Aberdeen over Christmas weekend.
Cecil Mooney, 32, of Bel Air is charged with first degree assault, second degree assault, and false imprisonment after police said he attempted to extort $1,000 from a local man, money Mooney claimed the victim’s brother owed his friend.
Police responded to the Aberdeen Wal-Mart on Sunday after a New Jersey man told police his son claimed he had been kidnapped and had asked his father to send money which he said would secure his release.
But, according to charging documents, the full story is made-for-TV strange.
Police said the saga began when the victim, Andrew Kastl, was present at Looney’s Pub in Bel Air on Christmas night and met a man he knew as “Brandon.” Kastl spent part of the night socializing with the man and several other individuals he knew as a child, before leaving the bar with his girlfriend.
While heading back to his girlfriend’s home police said the couple argued, and Kastl left her car and returned to Looney’s Pub, where he was met by “Brandon,” Mooney, and several other people. Kastl left the bar in their company, spending several hours at “Brandon’s” home before going with Mooney to his residence.
Once there, Kastl told police that Mooney became angry, and demanded that Kastl repay a $1,000 debt owed to “Brandon” by Kastl’s brother. When Kastl told Mooney he couldn’t pay, he told police Mooney assaulted him, eventually cutting him twice with a knife on the side of his face. Kastl claimed that Mooney repeatedly said that Kastl would be killed if the debt was not repaid.
Kastl contacted his father, said he had been abducted, and asked his father to send $700 through Western Union to the Wal-Mart in Aberdeen the next morning. Kastl’s father agreed to send the money, but also contacted police.
At approximately 10 a.m. Sunday, police said Kastl called 9-1-1 and reported that he was in front of the store. Making contact with Harford County Sheriff’s detectives already on scene awaiting his arrival, Kastl identified Mooney’s girlfriend, who had brought Kastl to the store.
In an interview with police, Mooney confirmed the details of Kastl’s account, saying that he believed Kastl had stolen $60 from “Brandon,” and that Kastl’s brother owed the other man $1,000. Mooney told police that he had cut Kastl with the knife, and directed him to contact relatives to transfer the money.
According to court records, Mooney has a criminal record dating back to 1997 which includes counts of assault, armed robbery, theft, and escape, among others.