North Carolina woman sentenced to more than seven years in prison, five years supervised release for role in kidnapping conspiracy

Published 7:52 am Sunday, October 30, 2022

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A Fayetteville woman was sentenced October 21, 2022 to 90 months in prison for her role in a December 2018 kidnapping conspiracy, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina. Merianda Gray pleaded guilty to the charge. She was also ordered to serve five years of supervised release and to pay $2,000 in restitution.

According to court documents, in December 2018, Gray and co-defendants Yomere Juan Busbee and James Calvin McEachern Jr. held three adult victims and a two-year-old child in a hotel room against their will for several hours after Busbee, “a violent pimp and drug dealer, believed he was missing several hundred dollars and accused the victims of stealing it,” stated the release.

“During the incident Busbee, McEachern, and Gray threatened the victims and did not allow them to leave. Several of the victims were physically and sexually assaulted and tased,” stated the release. “Eventually, one of the victims was able to get a message to a family member who called authorities. Busbee and McEachern fled after learning authorities were on the way, and three of the victims were able to escape. Officers with Fayetteville Police Department were able to retrieve the final victim from the room without incident.”

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McEachern previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and is awaiting sentencing.

Busbee was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping; kidnapping, including of a minor; conspiracy to distribute or possess with the intent to distribute heroin and cocaine base (crack); possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and felon in possession of a firearm. In September 2022, a jury found Busbee guilty of all counts after a three-day trial. Sentencing is pending.

Michael Easley Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fayetteville Police Department led the investigation. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Blondel and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Stephany prosecuted the case.



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