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Louisiana woman who staged her own kidnapping sentenced

A 32-year-old Louisiana woman who admitted to faking her own kidnapping has been sentenced to 41 months in prison. The woman learned of her fate during an April 17 sentencing hearing held in a district court in East Feliciana Parish. Court records indicate that the Hammond resident entered a guilty plea to a charge of wire fraud in January.

According to prosecutors, the woman sent a series of text messages to her Ouachita Parish employer in November that claimed she had been kidnapped and would be killed if a ransom of $4,500 was not paid. The texts are said to have instructed the woman's former employer to deliver the money to an address in Jackson, Mississippi. After contacting the Louisiana State Police, court records reveal that the employer spoke with the woman on at least two occasions. During these conversations, the woman is claimed to have said that her situation was precarious and she would suffer serious harm if the ransom was not paid.

These conversations prompted the LSP to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI special agents from Jackson and New Orleans then used global positioning technology to pinpoint the location of the device used to make the phone calls and send the text messages. When they arrived at the Jackson address, agents discovered the woman and seized her cellphone. A subsequent search of the phone led to the discovery of a series of text messages that exposed the kidnap scheme.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys would likely pursue a negotiated plea agreement when the evidence against their clients is overwhelming. The penalties for committing white-collar crimes like wire fraud or embezzlement can be severe, but federal prosecutors are often willing to reduce them substantially to avoid the risks of a jury trial.

Source: The New Orleans Advocate, "Louisiana woman gets 3-year sentence in fake kidnapping, ransom plot for $4,500", Kevin McGill, April 18, 2019

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