An investment banker with drug and money problems admitted to his plans to kidnap real estate magnate Jim Weichert’s son. Weichert Sr. is the founder and president of Morris Plains, N.J.-based Weichert, Realtors, a residential real estate brokerage company.
Robert Harrison told a New Jersey judge on Thursday he was planning to hold 21-year-old James Weichert Jr. for $1 million ransom, according to a Newsday.com article. He said he obtained a BB gun and duct tape and wrote a ransom note making it seem like multiple kidnappers were involved.
Harrison posed as a police detective and tried to lure Weichert Jr. to a cemetery in Harding, N.J., on Aug. 10, to get money from Weichert Sr., who was a former client.
Harrison had called the Weichert residence claiming to be a police officer who needed to speak with Weichert’s son, according to the news report. He then called James Weichert Jr.’s cell phone and said he was a detective investigating an abandoned Mercedes-Benz at the New Vernon cemetery containing paperwork that had Weichert’s name on it.
Weichert Jr. never showed up at the cemetery. Instead, he phoned his father, who then called the Harding police department. The police traced the call to Harrison’s cell phone, and later found the duct tape, BB gun and traces of cocaine in his vehicle. They also found the ransom note in Harrison’s possession.
According to the news report, Harrison lost his stockbroker job at Merrill Lynch in 2001 after several customers filed complaints against him. The complaints accused Harrison of facilitating unauthorized trades, charging excessive commissions and borrowing one customer’s money. Merrill Lynch has since settled the claims.
Harrison faces up to five years in state prison.
Weichert has more than 13,500 sales associates in nearly 300 company-owned and franchised sales offices in key markets throughout the United States.
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