Two Miami Gardens brothers kidnapped a man and beat him with a rifle in their home while the pair were out on bail facing unrelated state murder and attempted murder charges, federal authorities said Friday.
Devon and Donavan Cooke, 23-year-old twin brothers, appeared in Miami federal court Friday on kidnapping and carjacking charges after their arrests Wednesday.
Devon Cooke had already been under house arrest awaiting trial on a second-degree state murder charge, when federal prosecutors say he and his brother grabbed the victim from his car and tied him up in their home before extorting $20,000 from him, according to an FBI criminal complaint.
Devon Cooke had been granted a $150,000 bond with a GPS monitor in his 2018 state case by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Richard Hersch, despite opposition from local prosecutors to keep him in jail before trial.
Donavan Cooke had been given a low cash bond in his 2017 attempted murder case by Circuit Judge Teresa Pooler, but the charges against him were dismissed this week, court records show. It was an apparent coincidence.
For now, the brothers are being held at the Federal Detention Center, with issues about their possible bonds and defense attorneys set for a hearing on Monday.
According to the FBI complaint, the kidnapping unfolded last Monday when the unidentified victim drove to the brothers’ home to collect money from a loan he claimed to have made to Devon Cooke. When the victim arrived in a 2014 Mercedes-Benz — which belonged to his girlfriend — the brothers pulled him from the car parked in front of their home, punched and choked him, then grabbed his car keys. Devon Cooke drove the Mercedes-Benz into the driveway.
From there, the brothers took the victim into their home, tied him up with duct tape in a chair and “held [him] against his will,” according to the complaint filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gilfarb.
“Devon and Donavan also placed a dog leash around [his] neck and used the dog leash to choke [him] until he became unconscious,” the complaint says.
When the victim regained consciousness, the brothers beat him with their hands and an assault rifle while they cut his face and toes with a knife, the complaint says. Next, the brothers forced the victim to contact his girlfriend to collect some money, a Rolex watch and a jewelry chain and arrange for her to bring all of it to a meeting place, saying they would kill him if he didn’t follow their directions.
The victim texted his girlfriend that the money was needed to pay a jeweler. According to the complaint, a friend of the Cooke brothers took their Jaguar and drove the victim to meet his girlfriend so the friend could collect the money from her. The friend told the victim that he had killed seven people in the past and if he didn’t follow his directions, he would kill him too, the complaint says.
At the meeting place, the victim fled from the Jaguar and motioned to his girlfriend not to turn over the bag of money. But the brothers’ friend threatened the girlfriend, saying he had a gun, and ordered her to hand over the bag. After she gave it to him, he drove off in the Jaguar.
That Monday afternoon, after fleeing, the victim approached an off-duty police officer at a Credit Union in Miami Gardens and reported that he had been kidnapped and just escaped his captors.
When FBI agents visited the brothers’ home with a search warrant two days later, Donavan Cooke claimed the victim had stolen money from them and they made arrangements for him to come over so they could beat him, according to the criminal complaint. Donavan also said that the brothers had already spent the $20,000 ransom collected from the kidnapping, and that any money found in their house was unrelated to it.
The agents then arrested the twin brothers.