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.
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.