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2 Men Indicted in Abduction of 2 Israelis

The victims' deaths may have stemmed from a drug rip-off, officials say.

September 27, 2003|David Rosenzweig | Times Staff Writer

A federal grand jury indicted two men Friday on charges of abducting two Israelis whose remains were unearthed earlier this week from a shallow grave in the desert outside of Barstow.

Prosecutors said Shane Huang, 34, and Benjamin Frandsen, 29, could face the death penalty if convicted in the kidnapping, which may have been carried out in retaliation for a narcotics rip-off.

On Monday, the bodies of Adar Neeman, 25, and Benjamin Wertzberger, 24, both Israeli citizens, were found stacked on top of each other in a grave about 30 miles northeast of Barstow. Authorities have not disclosed the cause of death.

Huang, who has residences in Canoga Park and Venice, and Frandsen, who moved from Los Angeles to Wyoming earlier this year, were arrested Sept. 12 -- before the bodies were recovered -- on suspicion of kidnapping.

Also arrested at that time but not charged in Friday's indictment was Ora Vossen, 38, of Hollywood. She was accused of making false statements to the FBI.

According to a criminal complaint, Wertzberger had been staying rent-free in Huang's Canoga Park home in exchange for watching over an indoor marijuana crop. Neeman arrived in Los Angeles last Nov. 29 to visit Wertzberger, an old friend.

The complaint quoted an unidentified witness as saying that Huang had held both men captive after accusing Wertzberger of stealing some of his marijuana. The two were last seen alive on Dec. 2.

Huang and Frandsen are scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 6 in Los Angeles federal court. Their attorneys could not be reached for comment Friday.

Vossen's lawyer, David Katz, said his client had been cooperating with the FBI since April and had not been involved in the alleged kidnapping. He also denied that she had made false statements to the government.

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