HAMMOND | A suspect in an East Chicago kidnapping case struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors agreed to drop additional charges in exchange for Jose Montoya, 39, of Summit, Ill., pleading guilty to kidnapping and aiding and abetting, court documents stated. Facing life in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine, Montoya is seeking a lighter sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.
A co-defendant, Jesus Ramirez, 42, of Chicago, previously pleaded guilty to kidnapping in which the East Chicago man was allegedly taken from his home on Jan. 14, 2011, and then beaten and held for $75,000 ransom. On July 17, Ramirez was sentenced to 188 months in prison, court records stated.
According to the indictment, Montoya and Ramirez were part of a group that kidnapped the man and reportedly threatened the man’s family if they did not cooperate with their ransom demand. The suspects initially demanded $20,000, then increased the ransom when they contacted family members the next day, threatening to kill the man if their relatives did not come up with the money.
A relative turned over the money to an unidentified man in a car in North Riverside, Ill., and was then informed where to pick up the kidnap victim, court records stated.
A subsequent FBI investigation led to the charges. A sentencing date for Montoya is yet to be set.