South Carolina woman pleads guilty in kidnapping plot

A South Carolina woman who authorities say is a gang member known as “Lady Jamaica” has admitted lying to federal agents during their investigation of the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father.

Chason Renee Chase, 24, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Columbia. She was questioned by FBI agents after the April 5 kidnapping of Frank Janssen of Wake Forest, N.C.

Prosecutors say Janssen’s kidnapping was directed by 49-year-old Kelvin Melton, a high-ranking Bloods street gang member serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison. The intended target was Janssen’s daughter, the state prosecutor who put Melton away in 2012 for his role in the shooting of his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

Chase was interviewed by the FBI while the elder Janssen was missing and lied about communicating with Melton on a cellphone hidden in his jail cell, authorities said. Phone records showed numerous calls to Chase’s number. Chase also claimed not to recognize a photograph of Melton.

The FBI later located Janssen and rescued him in a dramatic raid on an Atlanta apartment where he had been held. His captors, young gang members who prosecutors say were in frequent cellphone contact with Melton, sent Janssen’s wife a photo of him tied up in a chair and a series of text messages threatening to torture and kill him if demands made on Melton’s behalf were not met.

Chase faces a maximum sentence of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Nine others still face federal criminal charges in the case.

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