WASHINGTON – A Virginia woman pleaded guilty today in relation to a staged kidnapping in Guatemala, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami Division.
Sheena Flores, 34, of Manassas, Va., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee to one count of transmitting in foreign commerce, with intent to extort money, a communication containing a threat to injure another person. At sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 21, 2011, Flores faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
According to court documents, in July 2010, Flores was living in Guatemala with a child under the age of two who was born in Guatemala. On July 6, 2010, from Guatemala, Flores contacted a family member in Manassas by telephone and reported that she and the child had been kidnapped by three men and that the men said that they wanted $5,000 in two hours or they were going to kill Flores and the child. Later that day, a family member of Flores in Manassas received numerous text messages from Flores’ cellular telephone in Guatemala threatening to kill Flores and the child if family members did not pay $10,000 in ransom by the next day. Believing that Flores and the child had in fact been kidnapped, a family member wired $3,000 from the Eastern District of Virginia to Guatemala. At the time that Flores reported the kidnapping and the ransom demands, Flores knew that she and the child had not been kidnapped and was simply attempting to extort money from her family.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebeca H. Bellows for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney James S. Yoon of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Miami Division Extraterritorial Squad.