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Lawyer Accused of Kidnapping Associate

April 18, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ An attorney involved in a real estate dispute with an associate was charged with kidnapping after he allegedly bound the man with duct tape, gagged him and imprisoned him in a crawl space beneath a Manhattan apartment.

Lawrence Schlosser, 63, said he was eventually able to bang open the trap door to the 3-foot-high crawl space Tuesday _ more than 24 hours after he was put there. He called police, and Lawrence Omansky, 54, surrendered on kidnapping and coercion charges the next day.

The dispute began with an argument over the condition of a building Schlosser partly owned and Omansky managed, according to the criminal complaint brought Thursday.

Schlosser, a real estate dealer, told police the two were in Omansky’s fourth-floor duplex apartment in Lower Manhattan when Omansky put a knife to his throat.

The lawyer bound Schlosser’s hands and feet with duct tape, gagged him and, after about two hours, forced him to sign documents turning over unspecified real estate interests, the complaint said. Schlosser told police he signed the documents out of fear he could be killed.

According to the complaint, Omansky then bound Schlosser again, blindfolded him and stuffed him into the crawl space, where he left him.

Schlosser said he was trapped in the unlit crawl space from about 1 p.m. Monday until about 5 p.m. Tuesday, when he was able to escape, police said.

Omansky surrendered Wednesday and was freed on $100,000 bail Thursday. He is expected to enter a plea next week.

His attorney Benjamin Brafman said in statement Thursday: ``This case will ultimately be viewed as a business dispute that should be resolved in a civil forum as opposed to the criminal court.″

If convicted, Omansky could face up to 25 years in prison on the kidnapping charge.

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