Man sentenced for deadly kidnapping of Chinese national


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man who helped in the deadly kidnapping of a Chinese man from a Los Angeles-area shopping mall was sentenced Friday to more than 16 years in federal prison.

Anthony Valladares, 29, of Pasadena, was sentenced a year after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to kidnap Ruochen “Tony” Liao of Santa Ana.

Liao, a Chinese national, owned a Southern California car dealership that sold high-end cars such as Porches and Bentleys.

Prosecutors say two Chinese men organized his July 16, 2018, kidnapping from a mall parking lot in suburban San Gabriel. Liao was lured into a minivan.

Prosecutors contend that Valladres was hired as “muscle” for the kidnapping.

Liao’s parents in China were sent demands for a $2 million ransom and ordered to deposit payment in Chinese bank accounts, according to court documents.

However, the money wasn’t paid, authorities said.

Liao was badly beaten and repeatedly shocked with a stun gun during the snatching. He was believed to have been held in a closet at a home in Corona and died the day after the kidnapping.

He was buried in the Mojave Desert. But his remains eventually were found and identified.

Also charged was Alexis Ivan Romero Velez, 25, of Azusa, the driver of the minivan. He pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to kidnap and awaits sentencing.

Two Chinese citizens who had been living in West Covina — Guangyao Yang, 28, and Peicheng Shen, 35 — are being held in China on charges filed there related to the kidnapping, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

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