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Abduction and torture blamed on drug debt Suspect arrested in 'bizarre' case

A Hamburg man who said he owed money to a drug dealer was kidnapped and tortured over two days in Buffalo before escaping late last week, Buffalo police said.

The victim told police he was beaten with an electrical cord, choked with his own belt and burned with a lighter -- sometimes as his girlfriend listened over the phone -- while his abuser sought payment for the drug debt.

The nightmare ended Friday with the arrest of a Cheektowaga man on kidnapping and other charges -- but only after the father of the victim's girlfriend went to the police, Buffalo Detective Mark J. Fitzpatrick said.

"Bizarre," Fitzpatrick said of the case.

Police said Maurice C. Simpson, 28, of Linda Drive was charged with first-degree kidnapping, intimidating a victim or witness, reckless endangerment, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

The victim, police said, was not seriously injured.

Simpson, police said, contacted a Hamburg man and his girlfriend to demand money the pair owed him.

The two later admitted to police that they had obtained crack cocaine from Simpson and owed him $2,500 or $3,000, though Simpson told police it was a smaller debt and not drug related, Fitzpatrick said.

The Buffalo News is withholding the names of the victim and girlfriend.

Simpson lured the two to a home on Euclid Place in South Buffalo Wednesday, where he threatened them and demanded the money, South District Chief James Shea said.

There, the victim's girlfriend said she saw Simpson physically abuse her boyfriend, police said.

After several hours of threats, Simpson allowed the girlfriend to leave but took the man against his will to a home on B Street on the city's East Side, where the doors were padlocked to prevent his escape.

At various times, Simpson choked the victim with his belt, pounded a drywall screw into his left thigh, burned him with a lighter, hit him with a cord on his back and legs hard enough to leave welts, squeezed his left pinky finger with a pair of pliers and struck him in his right hand with a heavy object.

Simpson also shaved or cut off the victim's hair, held a .22-caliber rifle to his neck and threatened to rape both the victim and his girlfriend, police said.

Some of the abuse occurred as the victim talked to his girlfriend and another acquaintance on the phone, after he was ordered to call and beg for the money, Fitzpatrick said.

He was able to escape only after Simpson and another man who had been in the house left him alone at about 5 a.m. Friday, though details of the escape were not provided, Fitzpatrick said. After escaping, the victim called his girlfriend, who picked him up early Friday near Martin Luther King Jr. Park, police said.

Simpson tracked down the two in West Seneca later Friday, and he accompanied them to the Hamburg home of the girlfriend, where he continued to make demands for the money.

The girlfriend, who had been in touch with her father, called him again for the money.

Her father contacted Hamburg police, who questioned the three and contacted Buffalo authorities, Shea said.

Arresting Officer William J. Gambino was assisted by Fitzpatrick and Officers David M. Piech and Robert C. Bigelow.

Simpson has previous convictions in City Court for disorderly conduct, unlicensed operation of a vehicle and a parking violation, records show.

Police are continuing to investigate, Shea said.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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