A Pasadena man was sentenced to a lengthy federal prison sentence on Friday for his role in a 2018 kidnapping plot that turned out to be fatal.
Anthony Valladares, 29, will spend 16 years and 3 months in prison, the California Central District District Attorney’s Office has announced.
During the hearing, US District Judge Fernando M. Olguin said Valladares and his co-conspirators committed a “horrific crime” when they kidnapped the victim, ultimately resulting in his death.
Valladares pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to kidnap in October 2020, prosecutors said.
Olguin ordered Valladares to pay $ 33,090 in restitution, prosecutors said.
The kidnapping took place on the evening of July 16, 2018. A friend dropped off Ruochen “Tony” Liao, a Chinese national who sold high-end cars in Southern California, at the San Gabriel Square shopping center on Valley Boulevard , according to court documents. .
Liao believed he was meeting a man who would help him collect a debt, according to court documents. The friend watched Liao, 28, get into a dark-colored van, which left. It was the last time anyone would see Liao.
Prosecutors said Valladares conspired with Guangyao Yang, 28, and Peicheng Shen, 35, to kidnap Liao.
Valladares was hired to intimidate, beat and restrain Liao during the kidnapping, prosecutors said, and he agreed to be paid cash for the work.
Shen used a pseudonym to meet Liao on several occasions under the pretext that he would help her collect a debt from another person, according to court documents.
July 16 was their third meeting. Inside the waiting minibus that evening were Valladares and Alexis Ivan Romero Velez, a 25-year-old Azusa resident whom Valladares had recruited to act as a driver, according to court documents.
Once inside the minibus, Shen used a note to signal Valladares to begin his attack, prosecutors said.
After uttering the word, Valladares and Shen fiercely attacked Liao, using a stun gun to subdue him, prosecutors said. They eventually tied him up and restrained him with a black hood and ties.
Valladares later admitted to helping Yang obtain the stun gun, revolver and bullets for removal, prosecutors said.
Romero drove the minibus to Rosemead when Liao was moved to another car, prosecutors said. Shen and Yang took Liao to a house in Corona where they tied his legs, sealed his eyes with duct tape, held his arms behind him, and locked him in a closet, prosecutors said.
The next day, Liao’s father received a $ 2 million ransom demand, prosecutors said. If the money was deposited into three Chinese bank accounts within three hours, the kidnappers said they would release Liao alive.
Liao died of injuries sustained during the kidnapping, prosecutors said.
His remains were discovered in the Mojave Desert late last year, prosecutors said.
Valladares was an “active participant and organizer of a violent kidnapping motivated solely by greed,” prosecutors said.
Yang and Shen have been arrested in China, prosecutors said. Chinese authorities have filed a complaint for the kidnapping. Velez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to kidnap in September 2019, prosecutors said. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 10.