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Monday, March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024

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Former Vancouver man accused of locking woman in cinder-block cell in Oregon has Oct. 17 trial date

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MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge set an Oct. 17 trial date for an Oregon man accused of posing as an undercover police officer, kidnapping a woman in Seattle and locking her in a cinder block cell until she bloodied her hands breaking the door to escape.

Negasi Zuberi, 29, who lived in Vancouver for about a year until June, made his initial appearance in federal court in Medford on Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke and pleaded not guilty to charges of interstate kidnapping and transporting an individual across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The judge ordered Zuberi held without bail and appointed a federal public defender to represent him. A status conference was scheduled for Sept. 25 ahead of the trial before U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Medford.

Zuberi could face up to life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say he solicited the woman on July 15 to engage in prostitution along Aurora Avenue in Seattle, an area known for sex work. Afterward, Zuberi told the woman he was an undercover officer, showed her a badge, pointed a stun gun at her, and placed her in handcuffs and leg irons before putting her in the back of his vehicle, the criminal complaint says.

Local Angle

Clark County Superior Court records indicate Negasi Zuberi was renting a house near Prairie High School, in the 11300 block of Northeast 116th Court, from July 2022 to June of this year, when Zuberi was evicted. The landlord alleged Zuberi had not paid rent for several months, was subletting rooms in the house against the terms of the lease and had unauthorized pets in the house.

A neighbor had also filed twice for an anti-harassment protection order against Zuberi, saying Zuberi threatened him and other neighbors. In one of the protection order petitions, the neighbor said Zuberi called him a racial slur. But a judge eventually denied issuing a full protection order in both cases because the neighbor and Zuberi didn’t appear at the hearings.

— Becca Robbins

He drove her hundreds of miles to his home in Klamath Falls, Oregon and locked her in a cinder block cell, the FBI said.

After the woman escaped, Zuberi fled the southern Oregon city. He was arrested by state police in Reno, Nevada, on July 16, the FBI said.

The FBI said it was looking for additional victims after linking him to violent sexual assaults in other states.

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