Friday, August 29, 2014
A South Carolina woman who authorities say is a gang member known as "Lady Jamaica" has admitted lying to federal agents during their investigation of the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor's father.
Chason Renee Chase, 24, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Columbia, South Carolina. She was questioned by FBI agents following the April 5 kidnapping of Frank Janssen of Wake Forest, North Carolina.
Prosecutors say Janssen's kidnapping was directed by 49-year-old Kelvin Melton, a high-ranking Bloods street gang member serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison. The intended target was Janssen's daughter, the state prosecutor who put Melton away in 2012 for his role in the shooting of his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.
Chase was interviewed by the FBI while the elder Janssen was missing and lied about communicating with Melton on a cellphone hidden in his jail cell, authorities said. Records from that phone showed numerous calls to Chase's number. Chase also claimed not to recognize a photograph of Melton.
The FBI later located Janssen and rescued him in a dramatic raid on an Atlanta apartment where he had been held. His captors, young gang members who prosecutors say were in frequent cellphone contact with Melton, sent Janssen's wife a photo of him tied up in a chair and a series of text messages threatening to torture and kill him if demands made on Melton's behalf were not met.
Chase faces a maximum sentence of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Nine others still face federal criminal charges in the case.
Melton, Quantavious Thompson, Jakym Tibbs, Tianna Maynard, Clifton Roberts, Jenna Martin, Jevante Price, Michael Gooden and Patricia Kramer all face a federal conspiracy charge related to the abduction. All but Kramer are also charged with kidnapping.
Follow Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker at Twitter.com/mbieseck