Thomas Cureton thought he could beat the Feds. But the kidnapper accused of beating his victim and putting a gun to her head went down today.
Cureton, 30, of Dupo, Illinois, was convicted in federal court this morning on several violent charges, including kidnapping and selling crack across the street from a Belleville elementary school.
According to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Cureton kidnapped an eighteen-year-old woman and took her to Washington Park, where he bound and beat her extensively while threatening to disfigure her with a knife. After placing a firearm to her head and threatening to kill her, Cureton called her family members and demanded ransom money. The kidnapped woman's grandfather testified that Cureton said, "I'm going to keep hurting her until I get my money."
Following the three-day trial, U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton praised the court system. "This is a wonderful set of verdicts and a proud day for justice!" he said in the statement.
It's too early to say whether Cureton will appeal. "While we continue to explore our options, we thank Judge [G. Patrick] Murphy for a fair trial and tip our cap to the U.S. attorney and, especially, Assistant Attorney Kevin Burke for their integrity and professionalism," Cureton's lawyer, Thomas Q. Keefe III, tells Daily RFT.
The Cureton case is one of only a small handful that have gone to federal trial this year in the Southern District of Illinois.
Cureton was found guilty on eight counts, including Possession of a Firearm, Distribution of Crack Cocaine Near a School, Interstate Communication of a Ransom Demand, Attempted Extortion Affecting Interstate Commerce and Using a Firearm in Furtherance of Crimes of Violence. He faces possible life imprisonment. Sentencing is set for November.
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