Dupo Man Sentenced to 62 Years in Prison
Thomas Cureton, 31, of Dupo, IL, who was found guilty of multiple, violent federal offenses following a four-day jury trial held in the United States District Court in East St. Louis in August, 2011, received a sentence of 62 years in prison at his sentencing hearing held Monday, January 30, 2012, Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today. Cureton was found guilty of being a felon in possession, distributing crack cocaine near a school, use of interstate communication containing a ransom demand, attempted extortion, and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. In addition to the lengthy sentence, Cureton received a fine of $10,000, an $800 special assessment, and 12 years supervised release.
“This is a well-deserved sentence for an extremely cruel drug dealer who was terrorizing our community. I am gratified that the Court responded with a sentence that should serve as a stern warning to other violent offenders – law enforcement is looking for you, and, when caught, you will be held to answer for your crimes.” said United States Attorney Wigginton.
Back in August, jurors heard testimony that Cureton dealt crack cocaine across from Franklin Elementary School in Belleville, possessed a firearm, and kidnapped an 18 year-old woman, taking her to Washington Park, where he then bound and beat her extensively while threatening to disfigure her with a knife and placing a firearm to her head while threatening to kill her. Cureton then called family members of the kidnapped woman and demanded ransom money for her release. The kidnapped woman’s grandfather testified that Cureton said, “I’m going to keep hurting her until I get my money.”
In passing down a sentence which virtually guarantees that Cureton will remain in jail the rest of his life, the District Court Judge told Cureton that his acts were “cold and vicious” and that, “you were willing to take this woman within an inch of her life.” The Judge stated, “It is unlikely that the defendant will ever be released from federal prison.”
In announcing the sentence, United States Attorney Wigginton noted, “This case was a great example of the partnership between our office and local law enforcement. The Illinois State Police, the St. Clair County Drug Task Force, the Belleville Police, the Glen Carbon Police and the WAVE are to be commended for their efforts. We prosecute many violent crimes involving drugs and guns, but these crimes were particularly cruel. Mr. Cureton will never be able to terrorize anyone outside of prison walls again. Again, I warn anyone thinking of using a gun in furthering their criminal acts – it may be the last thing you do as free person.”
The investigation was conducted by the Illinois State Police, the St. Clair County Drug Task Force Unit, the Belleville Police Department, the Glen Carbon Police Department, and the Working Against Violent Elements (WAVE) detail.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin F. Burke and Donald Boyce.