An illegal Polish immigrant who terrorized a Bedford family in a home invasion, barn-burning and extortion plot last year was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas went above the sentencing guidelines for Bartek Zajkowski, calling what the 23-year-old Queens man did “an exceptionally evil and cowardly crime.”
Zajkowski apologized, calling his crimes “the actions of a boy,” after hearing victim Leonardo LeBrun discuss the ongoing trauma his family is experiencing. LeBrun said his wife does not leave the house without their new guard dog and his youngest child, a 6-year-old daughter, does not walk around the house at night unattended.
“This is a deep and lasting emotional distress that’s really changed our lives forever,” said LeBrun, a former top executive at UBS Bank. “We’re suffering every day for what he’s done to us.”
Dressed in black, wearing a mask and carrying a BB gun, Zajkowski approached the Broad Brook Road mansion on the night of May 5, 2012. He encountered LeBrun in the driveway, tied his arms and legs and duct-taped his mouth. He took LeBrun’s wallet and watch, then went inside and confronted LeBrun’s wife, Lara LeBrun. She fought back and was shot in the stomach with a BB before Zajkowski tied her up as well.
She freed herself and triggered the alarm. Zajkowski fled the house without any of the expensive paintings or gold bullion that was inside.
But he didn’t stay away for long.
Two days later, a barn on the LeBruns’ property burned down. A week after that, the couple received a letter demanding they wire $3 million to a bank account in the Netherlands within five days or their three children would be harmed.
Zajkowski revealed how much he knew about the LeBruns’ children’s routines, like what time their son would get off the school bus. He also indicated he had been watching the property while the barn burned down, and said the fire was set in retaliation for Lara LeBrun’s feistiness during the home invasion.
“Your wife mess with me, she should let me do my thing,” he wrote. “For that she can consider her horses very lucky that they didn’t fry in that barn. Imagine running horses on fire …”