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Man convicted of assaulting, kidnapping, attempting to extort $2.5M from woman

Murat Ekdi, 43, of Tampa, found guilty of 4 counts
Murat Ekdi, of Tampa, found guilty on July 13, 2023
Posted at 12:25 PM, Jul 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-15 14:26:36-04

PALM BEACH, Fla. — One of two men accused of assaulting, kidnapping and attempting to extort $2.5 million from a woman in Palm Beach in 2018 has been found guilty on four counts.

On Thursday, a jury convicted Murat Ekdi, 43, of Tampa, of kidnapping while in possession of a firearm, aggravated assault with a firearm, grand theft over $100,000 while in possession of a firearm and threats or extortion while in possession of a firearm. He was found not guilty of unlawful use of two-way communications while in possession of a firearm.

Palm Beach Circuit Judge Scott Suskaer scheduled a sentencing hearing for 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 31.

The other suspect, Mustafa Gencoglanoglu, 50, of West Palm Beach, has a status check on 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 31.

At 10:11 a.m. Aug. 27, 2018, Palm Beach town police were dispatchedto Sabadell United Bank on Royal Palm Way in reference to a suspicious person incident.

A 59-year-old woman told 911 operators she was kidnapped, battered, a gun was held to her head and she was forcibly driven to Sabadell Bank to withdraw money from her account to give to her captors.

The victim said she was able to escape from her captors and lock herself inside a conference room inside the bank.

She identified Gencoglanoglu and Ekdi as the individuals that kidnapped her, beat her and took her to the bank.

The victim told a detective she had known Gencoglanoglu for approximately one year. He asked her to drive him to the Mangonia Park train station so he could take the train to Miami International Airport.

According to the woman, upon their arrival at the train station, Gencoglanoglu held her by her arm against her will and did not let her exit the vehicle.

She said he used a handheld stun gun and shocked her several times on her arm, neck and head area. He ordered her to lay flat over his lap while he drove away and covered her eyes with red fabric, she said.

Upon arrival at an undisclosed location, the victim said Gencoglanoglu met with Ekdi, who was wearing a black mask and black gloves to conceal his identity.

She says the men battered her with a stun gun and punched her body with their fists.

She was told to hold Ekdi's handgun, which he told her was to commit two murders earlier that week, and by putting her hands on the gun, she would now be implicated in the crime.

She said both men told her that if she did not obey their orders that they would call the police and submit the gun as evidence with her DNA and fingerprints.

Gencoglanoglu told her they wanted to go to the bank and withdraw $4 million. The victim said she told the men she did not have that amount but would be able to give them $2.5 million. She said both men agreed to those terms and drove her to Sabadell United Bank in Palm Beach.

When she was alone with the teller, the victim revealed that she had been kidnapped and asked to be hidden because she feared for her life. The teller took the victim into a conference room within the bank, which she knew could be locked from the inside.

Gencoglanoglu observed the commotion and exited the bank in a panic, police say.