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Trio tries to extort $500,000 from wealthy Bergen woman with ‘compromising’ recordings, police say

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

FIRST WITH THE STORY : A ruthless team of would-be extortionists tried strong-arming a wealthy Englewood Cliffs woman into paying more than $500,000 to keep them from sharing “compromising” video and audio of a family member with her neighbors and other relatives, but she went to the authorities instead, police said this afternoon.

Theresa Williams (aka Martin); Rayan Persaud; Saleem S. Ghany

Arresting them wasn’t easy, however.

Although they had threatened to show up early Monday, the New York City trio backed off at least once before finally heading toward their elderly target’s house, Englewood Cliffs Police Chief Michael Cioffi told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

“They were coming, they weren’t coming,” Cioffi said. “But they remained in the area.”

Cioffi said they had told the woman they’d give her the recordings in exchange for the money. At about 1:30 in the afternoon, the trio drove past the woman’s house. One of them got out of the car.

The signal was given, and a strike force of detectives from Cioffi’s department and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office was upon the car before the suspects knew it.

Jailed on extortion-related charges are Theresa Williams (aka Theresa Martin), 29, of the Bronx, the apparent ringleader. Also arrested was Rayan Persaud, 39, and Saleem S. Ghany — who turned 33 today — both natives of Guyana who live in Queens.

Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma ordered them held on $250,000 cash bail each at the Bergen County Jail, pending further court action.

Cioffi wouldn’t say whether any recordings were found in the car, which detectives searched today after obtaining a warrant.

The chief had to be extremely deliberate in dispensing information about the crime while remaining sensitive to the family’s desire for privacy. It’s one of the reasons why people move to Englewood Cliffs, which has fewer than 2,000 households — more than 10 percent of them Korean. The median home price: $1.3 million; median household income: $106,478, both according to Forbes Magazine .

Among its more popular residents: FOX Business News anchor Liz Claman; former Knicks center Patrick Ewing; tennis star Christina McHale; and hip-hop producer Q-Tip.

“The Cliffs” is also home to the world headquarters of CNBC and the North America satellites of both Ferrari and Maserati, spread out over nearly 3.5 square miles.

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