click to enlarge U.S. District Court Case File Ellis Athenas shown after he was kidnapped and beaten in November 2016.
A Eureka man who knew about a vicious kidnapping and did nothing was sentenced today to fifteen months in federal prison.
Zachary Smith, 25, pleaded guilty in May to misprision of a felony, a charge that means he concealed a crime.
In November 2016, Smith visited the home of Blake Laubinger in Pacific, Missouri. Laubinger and his brother, Caleb, were holding a Maplewood man named Ellis Athenas in the basement. Athenas was tied up and had been badly beaten. He and Blake Laubinger had at one time been business partners, selling weed shipped from California by St. Louis entrepreneur Todd Beckman.
Beckman is the founder of BAM Brands, the parent company of a suite of lifestyle businesses, including TanCo tanning salons and Massage LuXe massage parlors. But he was also importing crates of marijuana and selling it through a small network of associates.
Beckman and the young brothers believed Athenas had stolen drugs and money from the operation. As retribution, they planned his kidnapping and held him hostage for three days until Athenas’ parents paid a $27,000 ransom.
Beckman eventually pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges and was sentenced on February 9 to twenty years in federal prison. The other defendants are still