A man from Pasadena was sentenced on Friday to a lengthy federal prison sentence for his role in a 2018 kidnapping conspiracy that became fatal.
Anthony Valladares, 29, will spend 16 years and 3 months in prison, the U.S. Central District Attorney’s Office said.
At the hearing, U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin said Valladares and his conspirators committed a “horrific crime” when they kidnapped the victim, which ultimately resulted in his death.
Valladares pleaded guilty in October 2020 to one count of kidnapping conspiracy, prosecutors said.
Olguin ordered Valladares to pay $ 33,090 in damages, prosecutors said.
Kidnapping happened on the evening of July 16, 2018. A friend fired Rouchen “Tony” Liao, a Chinese citizen who was selling high-end cars in Southern California, in San Gabriel Square shopping center on Valley Boulevard, according to court documents.
Liao believed he had met a man who would help him pick up the debt, according to court documents. A friend watched 28-year-old Lia as he climbed into a dark-colored minivan as he drove away. That was the last one anyone saw of Liao.
Prosecutors said Valladares worked with 28-year-old Guangyao Yang and 35-year-old Peicheng Shen to kidnap Liao.
Valladares was hired during the abduction to intimidate, beat and subjugate Liao, prosecutors said, but agreed to receive a monetary reward for his work.
Shen used the nickname that he had met Lia several times under the pretext of helping him recover a debt from another person, according to court documents.
July 16 was their third meeting. That evening, Valladares and Alexis Ivan Romero Velez, a 25-year-old Azusa resident hired by Valladares as a driver, were in the waiting room, according to court documents.
When he was in the one-room apartment, Shen signaled to Valladares to launch an attack, prosecutors said.
After saying that word, Valladares and Shen violently attacked Lia and tamed him with a paralyzer, prosecutors said. In the end, they tied him up and kept him with a black hood and ties.
Valladares later admitted to helping Yang get a paralyzer, a revolver and ammunition for the kidnapping, prosecutors said.
Romero was driving a minivan to Rosemead when Liao was moved to another car, prosecutors said. Shen and Yang took Lia to a house in Corona, where they tied his legs, closed his eyes with duct tape, held his hands behind him and locked him in a closet, prosecutors said.
The next day, Lia’s father received a $ 2 million ransom demand, prosecutors said. If the money were transferred to three Chinese bank accounts within three hours, the kidnappers said Liao would be released alive.
Liao died from injuries sustained during the abduction, prosecutors said.
His remains were discovered in the Mojave Desert late last year, prosecutors said.
Valladares was “an active participant and organizer of a violent kidnapping motivated solely by greed,” prosecutors said.
Yang and Shen were detained in China, prosecutors said. Chinese authorities have filed an indictment in connection with the abduction. In September 2019, Velez pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping conspiracy, prosecutors said. A hearing for his conviction is scheduled for Nov. 10.