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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of Illinois

Friday, July 25, 2014

Three Charged In Alleged Kidnapping Hoax

Urbana, Ill. – Two men and a woman, arrested this morning, have been charged by criminal complaint with concealing material fact related to an alleged kidnapping hoax last month, as announced by Jim Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. Monica Adriana Zacatlan Ramirez, 19, of the 700 block of E. Michigan Ave., Urbana, Ill.; Eduardo Guerrero Cortez, 25, of Texas; and Jarbey Emerson Reyes Villalobos, 18, of Raintree Drive, Champaign, Ill., each made their initial court appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal in federal court in Urbana.
Cortez and Villalobos remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service as a result of a detainer placed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. Judge Bernthal ordered that Ramirez also remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. 

The affidavit, filed in support of the complaint, alleges that after nearly one month of investigation into the alleged kidnapping of Ramirez, on June 11, 2014, from Market Place Mall in Champaign, Ramirez, in fact, designed a scheme with Cortez and Villalobos to perpetrate a hoax kidnapping. The affidavit alleges that the hoax was designed to conceal Ramirez’s willingness and voluntary consent to be with Cortez and to hide Ramirez’s consent from her family and current boyfriend. 

The charges are the result of investigation by the Champaign Police Department; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield and Houston Divisions; the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office; and, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson.    

If convicted, the offense carries a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. 

Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Updated June 22, 2015