25 Years Later, Fugitive Returns to NYC, Gets Arrested


A man who fled the country 25 years ago while facing a prison sentence for attempted murder was arrested when he arrived at Kennedy airport.

Freddy Guerra had been living in the Dominican Republic and working as a mechanic. He was 18 when he and two friends shot the owner of Willie’s Hardware and Building Supply Store in Queens on Sept. 16, 1992, stealing cash and spray paint cans. The owner, Lieb Zaban, survived being shot in the chin.

Police arrested Guerra a month later and charged him with attempted murder. He pleaded guilty to the charge in December 1992 and was freed on $50,000 bond. He skipped a February 1993 court date and was later sentenced in absentia to six to 18 years of prison time.

Guerra inexplicably applied last week for a passport to visit family in New York. When he arrived he was arrested and taken to Rikers Island where he is awaiting a June court date.

Zaban died in 2015 at the age of 91 and had sold the store some years after the robbery.

His widow, Lea Zaban, who now lives in Pennsylvania, did not want to discuss the robbery. “That’s good. That’s good,” was all she said when told of Guerra’s arrest.