URBANA - Two men and a woman have been charged in connection with an alleged kidnapping hoax last month.
Monica Ramirez, 19, Eduardo Cortez, 25, and Jarbey Villalobos, 18, made their initial appearances in federal court in Urbana this afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal ordered that Ramirez remain detained in the U.S. Marshals Service's custody. Cortez and Villalobos have remained in custody following a detainer placed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations.
According to prosecutors, Ramirez allegedly designed a scheme with Cortez and Villalobos to perpetrate a hoax kidnapping, and that the hoax was designed to conceal Ramirez's willingness and voluntary consent to be with Cortez and to hide Ramirez's consent from her family and current boyfriend.
If convicted, the offense carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. We will bring you more details on this story when they become available.