A 34-year-old man from London has been arrested on a charge that while visiting the District in January, he kidnapped a Georgetown University student and forced him to drive to banks and a jewelry store in an attempt to obtain money, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.
Paolo Aldorasi, who authorities said resides in London, was arrested in a suburb of Seattle on Friday and charged with one count of kidnapping. He was ordered detained at a court hearing Monday and has a detention hearing set for Thursday.
Authorities allege that Aldorasi abducted the student from a street near campus Jan. 26 and forced him in the span of two hours to visit four banks, a Best Buy in the District and a Cartier store in Maryland. In each case, the FBI said in a criminal complaint, the victim’s bank card was rejected, denying attempts to withdraw $200 and $500 and to buy an iPhone 7 and a $6,300 bracelet.
Aldorasi’s attorney with the Federal Public Defender’s Office did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment.
The student, who has not been identified, was released unharmed, police said. Georgetown University previously said the victim was a student in an email crime alert to students.
A Georgetown spokesman said in a brief statement that the school is “grateful for the hard work” of law enforcement and will work to “ensure that the campus and surrounding community remains a safe place for students, faculty, and staff.”
In a separate statement, Georgetown University Police Chief Jay Gruber said officials have no knowledge of the suspect coming on campus or approaching other students.
Authorities said they tracked Aldorasi from Georgetown to SeaTac, in suburban Seattle, combining old-school investigative techniques with new technology, assisted by what court documents describe as a virtual cross-country map the suspect left on the Internet.
The FBI said in court filings that the white Chevrolet Equinox SUV used during the alleged kidnapping in Georgetown was rented in Aldorasi’s name. Electronic license plate readers that scan parked vehicles put the Equinox outside several of the stores and banks listed by the victim as the spots he allegedly was taken. Surveillance video showed the victim and the suspect — wearing a black suit, black shirt, gray necktie and black shoes — walking through Cartier on Wisconsin Avenue, peering into display cases and sitting with a sales clerk. The criminal complaint asserts that Aldorasi posted a photo of the interior of the Equinox on one of his social-media accounts.
Those same public Internet postings that the suspect used for his travelogue were postings the FBI said its agents used to track Aldorasi to the Seattle area. “By checking locations we believed he may traverse, investigators located Aldorasi and arrested him without incident,” Ayn Dietrich-Williams, a spokeswoman with the FBI office in Seattle, said in a statement.
D.C. police said the abduction occurred the afternoon of Jan. 26 along a residential cobblestone street about three blocks from the Georgetown campus.
The criminal complaint filed in federal court in Seattle says the victim had just left campus and was walking in the 3400 block of O Street NW when an SUV pulled beside him. The complaint describes the victim as Korean and speaking little English.
The complaint goes on to describe the alleged kidnapping:
The student told police that the man in the vehicle asked him for directions to Dulles Airport, and when the victim didn’t know, the man asked him to use his phone to find the way. The student said he didn’t have enough data left to complete the search. The student said the man then grabbed his wrists, released them, got out of the vehicle, grabbed his wrists again and forced him into the SUV.
The complaint says Aldorasi asked for $2,800 and told the student he was heading to Italy. Authorities said they went to two banks on M Street NW and a third bank on Wisconsin Avenue, where the student tried to withdraw money from an ATM. Attempts to take out $500 at two banks and $200 at the third were each declined.
At Cartier on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase, Md., the FBI said that Aldorasi told the victim to smile when they entered the store and that the suspect asked a clerk to show a particular bracelet worth $4,500. The complaint says he chose another one selling for $6,300.
The criminal complaint says the victim tried to buy the bracelet using his debit card and a Georgetown University ID. The court document says the card was declined. During the attempt, authorities said, Aldorasi filled out a form to be alerted to store promotions and provided an email address.
Authorities said Aldorasi and the victim tried another bank in upper Northwest Washington and a Best Buy store, where the victim tried to buy an iPhone 7 for $845. Those transactions also did not go through. Police said the suspect then left and the victim called police.
Emily Langer contributed to this report.