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Indiana Man Sentenced to 30 Months in Federal Prison for Extortion Scheme Conspiracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2012

Urbana, Ill. – Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. McCuskey today sentenced John J. Kochowiec, a.k.a. Jay, 38, of Indianapolis, to a term of 30 months in federal prison for conspiring to extort $20,000 from a Champaign area man.

On Sept. 2, 2011, Kochowiec entered an open plea of guilty to the indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. According to court documents and statements made during court proceedings, Kochowiec admitted sending text messages and letters to a Champaign area man after Kochowiec learned that a woman with whom he had a prior relationship, Angela Lanning, was meeting the Champaign man periodically in Indianapolis. The man met Lanning in November 2007, while she was working at a dance club in Indianapolis.

Beginning in September 2009, through December 2009, Kochowiec called the victim, sent text messages, and mailed letters threatening to tell the man’s wife about the relationship with Lanning unless he received $20,000. The victim contacted the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and an investigator began corresponding with Kochowiec using an undercover email account pretending to be the victim. On Feb. 5, 2010, the victim met Lanning at a Danville restaurant parking lot to give her the money. As Lanning started to leave, she was arrested.

Kochowiec has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since he was arrested on July 5, 2011. Co-conspirator Lanning, 33, also of Indianapolis, entered a plea of guilty on June 3, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. Lanning is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 3, 2012. Lanning remains on bond pending sentencing.

The charges were investigated by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller.

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