Convicted drug dealer seeking lighter sentence in kidnapping case

News-DemocratFebruary 18, 2014 

A convicted drug dealer will get a chance to seek a lighter sentence after receiving a 62-year prison term for kidnapping an 18-year-old woman, beating her and threatening to kill her.

Thomas Cureton, 33, formerly of Dupo, will be resentenced by U.S. District Chief Judge David Herndon on April 17, when Cureton has the opportunity to argue he should have only been sentenced to 25 years.

Cureton was convicted of an interstate communication of ransom request, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, attempted extortion and interstate communication with intent to extort.

U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy, who has since retired, sentenced Cureton in March 2012.

However, a U.S. Court of Appeals said the court erred when it sentenced Cureton because it considered two firearm convictions that stemmed from a single offense. The appellate court vacated one of the weapons convictions and sent the case back for resentencing.

Police said Cureton, who was also convicted of keeping guns and dealing crack cocaine from a house across the street from Franklin Elementary School in Belleville, had a gun and kidnapped an 18-year-old woman and took her to Washington Park on June 14, 2010.

In a basement of a house there, he tied the woman up, beat her, threatened to disfigure her and put a gun to her head, police said.

At some point, Cureton called the victim's grandfather and told him that "I'm going to keep hurting her until I get my money."

During the sentencing, Murphy said, "To tie up a young woman and kick, beat her and threaten to cut her and to bring other people in to frighten her and then to call her family, just a horrible, horrible, horrible experience for everyone involved is -- is cold and vicious almost beyond description.

"I would have given you a life sentence if the statute authorized it irrespective of what the guideline provided for in this case."

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.

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