3 face life in prison for kidnapping Fresno man, holding him for ransom

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three young adults from the North Valley are facing life in prison for allegedly kidnapping a Fresno man and holding him for ransom when a trick turned into a trap.

The victim thought he was in for a fun afternoon on January 3 when he booked a prostitute, met her at the Motel 6, and found two women when he got there.

But not long after he went inside with the 20-year-old women, a man joined them, and from that moment, the victim's day got worse.

Police say the 21-year-old man had a shotgun and the rendezvous turned into a robbery.

"They were able to take his ATM card and he provided them his PIN number in fear of the gun being pointed at him," said Sgt. Todd Turney of the Fresno Police Department.

Investigators say one of the woman withdrew money from an ATM at the Chase Bank a few blocks away. She checked his balance and decided they could get more.

So they all started driving -- to a Wells Fargo and a Golden 1 Credit Union -- where they tried to make more withdrawals.

Since that didn't work, police say they drove the man to Manchester Mall and started calling family members for a ransom.

"The first family member they contacted wasn't able to provide any of the money," Sgt. Turney said. "They then contacted another family member who was able to alert police."

Police surrounded the four of them in a car in the mall's parking lot and arrested Joseline Martinez, Manmit Bhullar, and Antonio Basquez-Watson.

Investigators say they found evidence of previous robberies in the car, as well as two shotguns.

"We know we're making a difference in reducing violent crime by taking guns off the street," said Fresno police deputy chief Pat Farmer. "We're preventing the next shooting, the next murder."

The suspects all pleaded not guilty to four felony charges -- including kidnapping for ransom, which carries a life sentence if they're convicted.
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