California Man Found Guilty of Kidnapping Lyft Driver
Defendant Forced Suspicious Driver to Return Him to Washington After 72-Mile Trip to Aberdeen, Md.
WASHINGTON – Shane Browne, 27, formerly of Beverly Hills, Calif., has been found guilty by a jury of federal kidnapping and narcotics charges stemming from an incident last December in which he ordered a Lyft driver at gunpoint to drive him more than 70 miles from Maryland to an apartment building in Washington, D.C.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Browne was found guilty on April 18, 2018 of charges of kidnapping and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The verdict followed a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Honorable Trevor N. McFadden scheduled sentencing for July 24, 2018. The charges carry a total statutory maximum of 25 years in prison. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Browne could face a possible range of 10 to 12 ½ years of incarceration.
At trial, the government’s evidence showed that on Dec. 11, 2017, Browne requested a ride using the Lyft smartphone application and ride-sharing service. The Lyft driver picked Browne up at approximately 3:20 p.m. at the Calvert House Apartments, in the 2400 block of Calvert Street NW. The driver drove Browne 72 miles to a Red Roof Inn in Aberdeen, Md.
After arriving in Aberdeen at approximately 5:20 p.m., the two parted ways at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant, with the Lyft driver having grown suspicious of Browne and indicating that he would not provide a round trip. Within approximately 30 minutes, Browne returned to the Lyft vehicle with a suitcase that he did not have at the start of the trip. Browne placed the suitcase in the trunk, and requested a return trip, which the driver refused to provide.
Ultimately, Browne entered the Lyft vehicle and yet again requested a return trip, which the driver once again refused to provide. At this point, according to the government’s evidence, Browne took out a firearm, held it to the driver’s head, and ordered him to drive them back to the Calvert House Apartments. The driver then drove Browne and his suitcase to the Calvert House Apartments. Along the way, and as confirmed by Lyft business records, the driver managed to send an e-mail to Lyft that read, “Call the police I’m on [sic] trouble.”
At about 7:30 p.m., they arrived at the apartment building. Browne exited the vehicle and took his suitcase and entered the building. The driver, meanwhile, contacted OnStar and was subsequently referred to 911. MPD officers responded to the area at approximately 8:05 p.m. The officers monitored the building and ultimately detained Browne as he left a unit.
The following day, a search warrant was executed at the apartment, and law enforcement recovered approximately 78 pounds of marijuana in suitcases similar to the one that Browne had placed in the Lyft driver’s car, approximately $35,000 in cash, a cash-counting machine and other items. No firearm was recovered in the search.
Browne has been in custody since his arrest on Dec. 11, 2017.
In announcing the verdicts, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director McNamara, and Chief Newsham commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force, which includes MPD detectives, and the MPD officers who responded to the scene. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences, the FBI’s Baltimore Division, the FBI Operational Technology Division, and the Harford County, Md. Sheriff’s Department.
They also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Chrisellen Kolb, Deputy Chief of the Appellate Division; Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Brown; Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Parker Tobin; Paralegal Specialists Candace Battle, Jeanette Litz, Catherine O’Neal, Kim Hall, and Teesha Tobias; Supervisory Paralegal Specialist Mary Downing; Legal Assistants Latoya Wade, Peter Gaboton, and Katie Cowley; Litigation Technology Specialist Claudia Gutierrez; Criminal Investigator John Marsh; Sarah McClellan, Chief of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit, and Victim/Witness Advocate Yvonne Bryant. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Vanore and Stephen J. Gripkey, who indicted and tried the case.