Philly woman gets 11 months for spouse kidnap plot
Friday, July 22, 2011
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A woman upset about her household allowance will spend 11 months in prison for plotting a fake kidnapping to extort money from her alleged cheapskate husband.
Yudeka Valdez, 35, of Philadelphia, complained her estranged husband wasn’t making payments on her Mercedes. She told two men hired for the kidnap job he was a heroin dealer who kept $20,000 to $30,000 in cash at home.
But the man she had approached was an informant who brought an undercover drug agent along for the job.
“This was a foolish woman, angry at an estranged husband who wasn’t providing ... (what) he should have been,” said defense lawyer Peter Bowers, who called the plan something out of the TV show “Divorce Court.”
He called his client “emotionally spent” by the time she concocted the October 2008 plot.
After her arrest, Valdez told agents she never planned to go through with the plot. She apologized for her actions in court Thursday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Shapiro agreed the planning was preliminary, and called the extortion charge perhaps “overkill,” given the scenario. But he said the agents stepped in to arrest Valdez because they couldn’t take any chances.
“She felt that he ought to be making the payments on her Mercedes,” Shapiro said in court. “It led her to adopt unconventional and desperate measures.”
The plot called for both Valdez and her husband to be kidnapped. She gave the men $700, including $200 for expenses. It’s unclear if she planned to give them a cut of the ransom had the plan been carried out.
Prosecutors agreed to recommend the 11-month sentence, far below the three-year guideline range.
U.S. District Judge Curtis Joyner voiced reservations, but ultimately approved the negotiated deal. He told Valdez she was catching a break. He also gave her 60 days to report to prison, to get her 16-year-old daughter situated at school.
“Don’t come back,” he warned her.
Authorities have been unable to find the husband, and could not confirm the claim he deals drugs.