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Man kidnapped after seeing hookah lounge owner cheat on wife, deputies say

Deputies say victim was beaten, held at gunpoint

ORLANDO, Fla. – A hookah lounge owner and another man are accused of kidnapping a third man from an Orlando Wawa because the victim witnessed one of the suspects cheating on his wife, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

The victim told deputies he was at Wawa on North Goldenrod Road around 10 p.m. Sept. 22 when a silver vehicle pulled up to him and four men got out, one of whom was armed with a small, black semiautomatic handgun.

"If you know what's good for you, you will get in this car," the man told the victim, according to the report.

The victim said one of the men who kidnapped him was Joel Rodriguez, 39, who owns La Isla Hookah Lounge on Goldenrod Road and another was Stefan Pierce, 28. The identities of the two other men involved were not immediately available.

Deputies said the men drove the victim to La Isla Hookah Lounge, tied him with plastic zip ties, hit him on the head with a level and injected him with unknown drugs.

The victim said he was eventually able to escape and run across the street. He later went to Florida Hospital, where he was interviewed by detectives.

He told deputies that he worked for Rodriguez doing construction at the hookah bar and during that time he witnessed the suspect cheating on his wife and being in possession of illegal narcotics.

Rodriguez was arrested after a search warrant was executed at his hookah bar and deputies found a blue couch with blood stains, a mop with blood, zip ties and a broken level, the report said.

Deputies said Rodriguez admitted to the kidnapping and said that if the victim had not escaped, they likely would have killed him.

The suspect's wife, Iris Rodriguez said she stands behind her husband.

"I know my husband wouldn't be capable of doing something like that," Iris Rodriguez said. "It was all a lie, everything is a lie, it's not true."

She said her husband is busy trying to open up his hookah lounge.

"It surprises me and that's why we have to take it to court, to wherever, to prove my husband's innocence," she said.

Rodriguez told deputies where Pierce was located and he was arrested on Sept. 28, the report said.

Both men are charged with armed kidnapping and aggravated battery.


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