SCHENECTADY – A New Jersey man has been arrested, accused of kidnapping two children from Scotia in January for the purpose of sexual exploitation, New York State Police and prosecutors said Wednesday.
The children were returned home without injury less than 12 hours after they were reported missing, police said.
Yusef Illeez, 19, of Cherry Hill, N.J., was arraigned on an indictment Wednesday charging him with two counts of second-degree kidnapping as a sexually motivated felony and other charges.
If convicted of a kidnapping charge, he would face up to 25 years in state prison.
Illeez was arrested Oct. 28 in New Jersey and extradited to Schenectady County Tuesday and held at the jail, authorities said.
The investigation began Jan. 16 when New York State Police investigators responded to assist the Scotia Police Department with the report of two children kidnapped from a home, state police said.
Illeez is accused of dropping one of the children off early the next morning and the other nearby the next day. He is accused of taking them to a location in Schenectady, prosecutor Michael Nobles said.
Investigators learned the suspect had been in contact with one of the children online, but investigators didn’t initially know his name and they worked to identify him, Nobles said. The investigation, which included the FBI, eventually identified Illeez as their suspect and a grand jury indicted Illeez, leading to the arrest warrant.
Troopers turned over their investigative findings to the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office and a warrant was issued for the man’s arrest Oct. 27. He was then arrested the next day in New Jersey, before being transported to Schenectady County Tuesday, police said.
The investigation into Illeez is continuing in New Jersey through local authorities there and the FBI to determine if there are any additional victims, Nobles said. There is no indication of other victims in Schenectady County, Nobles said.
In all, Illeez faces two counts of second-degree kidnapping as a sexually motivated felony, and one count each of first-degree attempted rape, first-degree attempted criminal sexual act and second-degree sexual abuse, felonies, and two counts of misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
He was arraigned Thursday in Schenectady County Court and ordered held without bail pending trial.