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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

KC Man Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping, Torture Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to his role in a conspiracy to kidnap and torture an Independence, Mo., man.


Richard M. Phoenix, also known as “Snake,” 76, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.


According to today’s plea agreement, Phoenix’s co-conspirators purchased at least 120 pounds of marijuana from a source in Colorado, for which they made more than a dozen trips between Colorado and Kansas City.  On Sept. 12, 2016, Phoenix’s co-conspirators kidnapped the victim, a co-conspirator in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and identified in court documents as “C.H.,” because he stole money that was intended for the purchase of marijuana.


Conspirators arrived at the Independence, Mo., residence of the victim’s father, identified as “W.H.,” on Sept. 12, 2016. Conspirators told W.H. to call C.H. and tell him he was being held at gunpoint and that C.H. needed to come to the residence right away. When C.H. arrived at the residence, a co-conspirator pointed a firearm at him and told him to get into his vehicle. While in the vehicle, another co-conspirator struck, punched and choked C.H. as they drove away.


They took C.H. to a co-conspirator’s residence, where they were met by Phoenix. C.H. was taken to the basement, where he was assaulted with fists, a hammer and tin snips/clippers. During the assault, conspirators repeatedly demanded that C.H. disclose where the duffle bag containing the money was located. When co-conspirators left to retrieve the duffle bag, Phoenix held C.H. at gunpoint in the basement until they returned.


Conspirators later drove C.H. to a rural residence near Edwards, Mo. As conspirators drove them to the residence, a co-conspirator continued to strike C.H. with fists and the butt of a firearm. When they arrived at the residence, C.H. was told to call his father and to tell him that he was okay, that he had taken a beating, that he would be home in a couple of days and that he deserved what had happened.


Under federal statutes, Phoenix is subject to a sentence of up to life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad K. Kavanaugh. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Benton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the FBI.

Violent Crime
Updated September 11, 2018