3 indicted in fake kidnapping scheme

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SPRINGFIELD - A federal grand jury in Springfield has indicted a woman allegedly kidnapped from a Champaign mall on June 11, and the two men who appeared to kidnap her.

The indictment charges Monica Ramirez, 19, Eduardo Cortez, 25, and Jarbey Villalobos, 18, with conspiring to provide false statements to conceal that the reported kidnapping was, in fact, a hoax.  Ramirez also faces additional charges of making false statements to law enforcement and perjury.

According to the indictment, Ramirez and Cortez allegedly agreed to design a scheme where Cortez would kidnap Ramirez so that her willingness to be him him would be concealed.  After obtaining an order of protection against Cortez, Ramirez allegedly spoke with Cortez and told him to pick her up from the Market Place Mall and make it appear that he took her by force.  Cortez and Villalobos, armed with a small knife, and another individual traveled to the mall, found Ramirez and put her into the vehicle.  Villalobos threatened Ramirez's companion and then left the area.  From June 11 through June 14, Ramirez, Cortez, and Villalobos traveled from Illinois to Texas.

Ramirez, Cortez, and Villalobos were previously charged by criminal complaint and arrested on July 25.  All three remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.  If convicted, each offense carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

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