HAMMOND | A federal judge sentenced a Belize man to life in prison Wednesday for the 2006 kidnapping and armed robbery of a Gary drug dealer.
A jury found Tyrone "Zero" Reynolds, 33, guilty in May of kidnapping Glenford Russell for ransom, conspiring to distribute marijuana and using a firearm to commit a crime of violence. Reynolds received an extra seven years on top of the life sentence for the gun conviction.
In October 2006, Reynolds, his brother, Michael Bennett, and six others waited for Russell to arrive home and jumped him at gunpoint as he walked toward his house. The group then ransacked the home looking for marijuana and money.
Bennett found more than $13,000 under the bathroom sink, but he and the others did not find any marijuana.
According to court records and testimony, Reynolds duct-taped Russell to a chair, beat him and kept him bound for at least 11 hours.
Russell said in court Wednesday that he has not been the same in the years since the attack.
"Mentally, I'm afraid to leave my house," he said. "I don't have a social life anymore."
In addition to the emotional stress, Russell said he suffered a torn retina from the beatings and still sees flashes of light in his left eye.
During the crime, Russell said, he told Reynolds he could get the group 50 pounds of marijuana from a place in Chicago, according to testimony. Two co-defendants testified at Reynolds' trial that they planned to release Russell after getting the drugs.
Russell drove some of his captors in a van to Illinois, where he dove out of the vehicle and escaped.
John Maksimovich, Reynolds' attorney, argued his client was part of a Belize mob who robbed Russell, but there was no ransom. Maksimovich also claimed Reynolds was not a leader in the conspiracy, and his co-defendants perjured themselves on the stand to get leniency for cooperating with the government. He asked for a sentence of 273 months.
Reynolds, who is in the United States illegally and could face deportation before he completes his sentence, apologized to the court and Russell. While he admitted to making mistakes, he said he did not think he received a fair trial.
Now a father of four, Reynolds said he has had a drug problem since age 5.
"You're a danger to society," Judge Rudy Lozano said. "You've broken the law, and you continue to go up the scale in what you're doing."