Lutz, Florida - Tuesday evening the Gennaro family gathered together for a family celebration as one of their youngest relatives celebrated a birthday. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes were on the menu at Anthony and Leslie's home since one of their granddaughters recently turned 12.
But Thursday afternoon Anthony received a cell phone call while he was working that rocked his world. He says, "I was tormented for an hour and a half about my son. It was pure torture."
He says the caller claimed that their only son had crashed his work pick up truck into his brand new Mercedes Benz while the son was working for their family owned plumbing company, Anthony Gannaro Plumbing Contractor. What the caller said next took Anthony's breath away.
Anthony says that the caller said, "We got into a big fight. I hit him in the head with my pistol...my gun...he's bleeding."
What's worse though is that Anthony says the caller threatened to kill his son if he didn't rush to the bank, pull out $2,000 dollars in cash, and wire it through Western Union right away.
He was told to send half the money to someone named Desire Loran in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The other half he wired to Jesse Ortiz of New York, New York.
Meanwhile while Anthony stayed on the phone with the caller hoping for the safe return of his son his wife Leslie waited for her husband to pick her up from her chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. When Anthony finally did show up she says he was still taking orders from the enraged caller.
Leslie says, "He was terrified. He would have never gambled his son's life...never...ever."
After the wire went through the couple learned their son was never in any danger. The married father of 3 had been hard at work the entire time. He says, "I thought how could you fall for that? But they play on your fears."
Temple Terrace Police are investigating the incident. The Gennaro family says they want to see the suspects caught before it happens to anyone else. They're hoping the FBI will step in and investigate too.