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Press Release

Federal Jury Convicts Two Men in Violent Kidnapping Conspiracy Involving Several Victims in Chicago Suburbs

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — Two men have been convicted on federal kidnapping charges for conspiring to abduct several victims at gunpoint in the Chicago suburbs.

SEDGWICK WILLIAMS and TAI HON LA conspired with each other and others to carry out the kidnappings in the fall of 2019.  Williams personally participated in kidnappings that occurred in Naperville, Ill., and Westchester, Ill., in October and November 2019.  Williams and La also attempted a third kidnapping in South Holland, Ill., in December 2019.  Their efforts to abduct the intended victim in that incident were unsuccessful, and they were both arrested fleeing from the South Holland residence.

After a two-week trial, on May 22, 2024, a jury in federal court in Chicago convicted Williams and La of participating in the kidnapping conspiracy and the attempted kidnapping in South Holland.  Williams was also convicted on individual kidnapping counts concerning the Naperville and Westchester kidnappings, and with falsely impersonating a federal law enforcement officer.  La was also convicted of illegal firearm possession.

Williams, 47, of Chicago, and La, 34, of Beach Park, Ill., each face a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.  Sentencings have not yet been scheduled.

The convictions were announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.  The case was investigated with the assistance of the Naperville Police Department, Westchester Police Department, South Holland Police Department, Chicago Police Department, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jared C. Jodrey, Corey B. Rubenstein, and Kate McClelland.

According to evidence presented at trial, the first kidnapping occurred in Naperville on Oct. 17, 2019, when the conspirators posed as law enforcement officers to handcuff and abduct a man at gunpoint outside of his electronics store, which they then burglarized.  The conspirators forced the victim into their car and transported him to a vacant unit in Chicago, where they physically assaulted him and extorted his family.  Following his release, the victim received medical treatment in a hospital.

The conspirators carried out the kidnapping in Westchester on Nov. 16, 2019.  Posing as DEA agents, the conspirators handcuffed and abducted a man at gunpoint outside of his residence.  The conspirators forced the victim into his home, where they seized another victim and forced them both into the basement.  Two other victims later arrived at the residence and were also forced into the basement at gunpoint.  The conspirators stole cash and jewelry before fleeing the residence.

The conspirators attempted the third kidnapping in South Holland on Dec. 11, 2019, but they were unsuccessful because the intended victim called 911 and the South Holland Police arrived on scene before the conspirators could gain access to the house.

Two other defendants charged in the case pleaded guilty prior to trial.  IVAN AYERS, 36, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to participating in the kidnapping conspiracy.  JONATHAN VARGAS, 38, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to kidnapping the first victim in Naperville.  Ayers and Vargas are awaiting sentencing.

Updated May 29, 2024

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