When John saw David lay out some lines during one deal, he started pressing him for coke—so David sent John to Sarzynski. John’s first videotaped coke purchase from Sarzynski, police say, was on August 17 at about 9:15 p.m. near First Avenue and 4th Street. John allegedly went back to David for pot and coke on August 24, then back to Sarzynski’s apartment for more coke on the 25th. At about this time, police say, David was doing a few deals with another dealer from Brooklyn named Roberto Lagares. Whatever he was doing with the coke, he appeared to be going through it too fast for just one dealer to keep up.
David says he came back to start his junior year in September to unwelcome news. Owing to changes in the economy, he says the university told him, he would no longer be receiving financial aid. David appealed the decision and won back about $10,000 in aid, but still didn’t know how he was going to pay for the rest of his tuition or his expenses. David says his father suggested he go into the military. The idea may have seemed unlikely, but David considered it. He talked to recruiters and was veering toward the Army; they’d pay for his college once he came back, or he could transfer his credits and enroll for a free ride in a military engineering program. But he walked away from that plan. He liked Columbia too much. He wanted to be with his friends. He decided to keep taking classes and deal with problems as they came up.
On September 7, the police orchestrated a coke buy with David and then a pot deal on the 23rd they say involved both David and Coles. A source says once David referred John to Coles, John eventually made the rounds and met other Columbia dealers. Coles allegedly sold John more pot on October 6. Coles and Vincenzo allegedly sold Adderall to John on October 13. David, Coles, and Vincenzo all allegedly sold him pot on October 25. When he wasn’t doing the circuit at Columbia, John was doing double duty downtown with Sarzynski. He bought cocaine and a vial of LSD on September 14. On that deal, John brought along another undercover officer—a slightly older, muscular Italian guy with a mustache. Sarzynski was told his name was Rob.
After one last deal on September 21, John stopped his visits to Sarzynski, and Rob became Sarzynski’s regular customer. Rob came along for a coke deal with Sarzynski on the night of September 30 and met one of Sarzynski’s coke suppliers—one of the three men from Queens. Two weeks later, on October 13, Rob got a phone call from Sarzynski, who was furious about not getting $4,200 that his Queens connections owed him. He said he wanted revenge.
Sarzynski admits to it all now. “I was very emotionally angry,” he tells me. Rob seemed like a tough guy to Sarzynski, and he asked Rob if he knew anyone who could help him kidnap one of the dealers for ransom. He says Rob got back to him and said he had two black friends and some Spanish friends who were “itching” to do it. Sarzynski outlined his plan to Rob a few days later, October 17, inside a stairwell of his East 6th Street apartment building. The conversation was recorded. “I want my four Gs,” Sarzynski said. “You take everything else. It will pan out because that guy makes all the money for them. He is the head. They need that guy, they will pay money for him … We’ll tell them, ‘You’re going to give us $10,000 right now, or they’ll never see you again,’ and they’ll bring it down. They’ll want no one to die over $10,000.”
At about 1:30 p.m. on October 20, police say, Rob picked up Sarzynski and headed to Queens to stake out where the would-be kidnapping would take place. Sarzynski says Rob brought a Canon camera and took photos of the Queens guys. As he rambled on in a rage, Sarzynski’s plan kept changing. “We should just take the main guy,” he said first. “Then just fucking go up to his main place and get all the money. Or just make one of their soldiers do it. They’re going to be shitting their pants, because I know they got the money, and they’ll give it up because they don’t want to die. And if that guy dies, the business dies.” Then Sarzynski went on about how Asper, his girlfriend, was also furious about getting ripped off. “She called them fucking skanks,” Sarzynski told Rob. “She was, like, ‘If we can’t find anybody, we’ll do it ourselves.’ ” Finally, he fantasized some more about what he’d do if he could. “I would go behind them with a fucking Taser, taking everything they got, and then—pop! In the head.” After that, “something nasty,” he said, “like put a few drops of acid in his mouth and then leave him there. I would have done something very nasty.”