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03/10/2010

Co-conspirator in plot to kidnap 2 North Carolina kids pleads guilty

CHARLOTTE, NC - A Texas woman who helped write a ransom note threatening to kill two Cornelius, N.C., children pleaded guilty here this morning, following a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD).

Linda Gonzalez, 21, of Edinburg, Texas, faces a maximum term of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, and a term of supervised release.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Edward R. Ryan of the Western District of North Carolina, Delbert Richburg, assistant special agent in charge over all ICE Offices of Investigations in North Carolina, and CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe.

According to court documents, from on or about July 2009 through September 2009, Gonzalez was the wife of Ruben Garcia-Rosario. Sometime in July 2009, Gonzalez was contacted by cell phone by Garcia-Rosario, who was living in Charlotte at the time. Garcia- Rosario requested Gonzalez's assistance in writing a ransom note to be used in a scheme to kidnap two minor female victims who were then residents of Cornelius.

According to court documents and testimony at a March 10 hearing, in exchange for Gonzalez's assistance, Garcia-Rosario promised Gonzalez $10,000. Further, according to court records, Gonzalez helped Garcia-Rosario write a ransom note that demanded ransom money from the family of the two minor victims and that threatened to kill the minor victims if the family failed to pay the ransom amount.

According to the record, law enforcement authorities apprehended Garcia-Rosario in Charlotte on Sept. 29, 2009, and at that time he possessed multiple ransom notes, a photograph of the two female minor children contained in his cell phone, a loaded FIE .25 caliber semiautomatic pistol, ammunition, duct tape, latex gloves, two Mexican passports and a ski mask.

At the hearing, Gonzalez admitted that from on or around July 2009 to in or around September 2009 she agreed with indicted co-conspirator Garcia-Rosario to assist him by writing a ransom note for use in a kidnap scheme in exchange for the promise of $10,000.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth M. Smith, Craig D. Randall and Cortney Escaravage, all of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charlotte.

Garcia-Rosario is presently pending trial in the Western District of North Carolina. The trial term is set to commence on April 5, 2010. A date for the sentencing of Gonzalez has not yet been set by the court.