|For Immediate Release
Case # 01WF2844
June 01, 2007
TWO MEN SENTENCED TO LIFE FOR KIDNAPPING AND HOLDING BUSINESS MAN TO EXTORT $80,000
SANTA ANA – Two men were sentenced today to life in prison with the possibility of parole for kidnapping a businessman and holding him to extort $80,000. Cuauhtemoc Agustin Reyes, 33, Newport Beach, and Arthur Frank Zavala, 37, Huntington Beach, were convicted by a jury on January 30, 2007 of kidnapping and kidnapping for extortion.
Co-defendant Derek Jason Howard, 33, Pomona, pleaded guilty to kidnapping on June 10, 2005 and was sentenced to one year in jail. Defendants Robert Cadavas, 35, Santa Ana, and David Vargas, 44, Santa Ana, pleaded guilty June 23, 2005 to kidnapping and were sentenced to eight years in prison.
On November 16, 2001, John Doe was unknowingly followed by Reyes, Howard, and Cadavas to Fry’s Electronics in Fountain Valley. As John Doe left the store he was approached by the two of the men, who attempted to abduct him. As John Doe struggled to get away, a car pulled up which John Doe thought was a passing Good Samaritan. He jumped into the car, which ended up being driven by the third abductor who was part of the kidnapping, and John Doe was subdued. John Doe did not know the kidnappers.
The abductors, joined by Zavala, took John Doe to a Travelodge in Costa Mesa, where Reyes had rented a room. Zavala demanded bank account information and $80,000 from him. Zavala hit John Doe several times and threatened him by showing him pictures of John Doe’s family and saying they would be hurt if John Doe did not cooperate. Reyes had collected surveillance photos of John Doe’s home, business, and family. John Doe was drugged and held overnight in the hotel room.
On November 17, 2001, John Doe was taken to the bank by his captors and told to withdraw $44,000. He was forced by Zavala to write a note indicating that he was robbing the bank, and kept the note in his back pocket. John Doe made the withdrawal and exited the bank, but found that his captors had fled because a police car had pulled into the parking lot.
Deputy District Attorney Tony Ferrentino of the Career Criminal Unit prosecuted this case.