3 charged with kidnapping, robbing rural Paxton man

PAXTON — Three men have been charged with kidnapping and robbing a rural Paxton man, beating him with a gun and baseball bat, and threatening to kill him and his family if he did not give them more money.

Following a multijurisdictional investigation that included assistance by the FBI, the three men were arrested Wednesday in Paxton, Loda and suburban Berwyn.

Ford County State's Attorney Matt Fitton has charged Rodolfo A. Cerritos, 25, of Paxton, Evigan J. Marcos, 24, of Loda and Eduardo Samano, 22, of Berwyn with one count each of armed robbery, a Class X felony; kidnapping, a Class 2 felony; and aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony.

Cerritos and Marcos remained at the Ford County Jail on Thursday, while Paxton Police Chief Bob Bane said he was notified that as of 9 a.m. Samano was in the custody of Berwyn police.

Bond is set at $250,000 for Samano, and Fitton said he has asked Judge Paul Lawrence to set the same bond amount for Cerritos and Marcos. Preliminary hearings have not been set.

According to a criminal complaint from Paxton police filed in court, the victim reported to police that on Dec. 9, he was abducted by two Hispanic men — later identified as Marcos and Cerritos — as he was leaving the business where he works in Paxton. The kidnappers used a pistol and a baseball bat to force him into a vehicle by "hitting him in the head multiple times," the complaint said.

They then drove around Ford and Iroquois counties threatening to kill him and his family.

"The gentleman was held for hours, beaten and extorted for money," Bane said.

"During this time, they struck (the victim) with the bat and pistol," police said in the complaint. "They stuck a gun to (his) head and dry-fired the pistol twice."

The kidnappers agreed to let the victim leave if he provided $800 in cash to them the following day by dropping it in a garbage can at the park in Loda. They had already allegedly robbed him of $300, several credit cards, a cellphone, two checks totaling $8,000, a GPS unit and external computer hard drive.

Samano, who was not in the vehicle throughout the incident but allegedly "set everything up," later picked up Cerritos and Marcos "from the scene," the complaint said.

Paxton police asked for the FBI's assistance in investigating the incident. On Wednesday, the victim was asked to leave $50,000 in the same garbage can at the park, and the FBI "covered" the funds, the complaint said. Cerritos then collected it from the park on Wednesday, the complaint said.

Cerritos was arrested by Paxton police, FBI agents and state police during a traffic stop in the 200 block of North Market Street on Wednesday, Bane said. The complaint said Cerritos confessed to his involvement and named Samano and Marcos as others involved, adding that Samano "planned everything."

Marcos was arrested later Wednesday by Paxton police, FBI agents and state police at his home in the 200 block of South Elm Street in Loda.

Police then obtained an arrest warrant for Samano late Wednesday night, and he was arrested Thursday morning in Berwyn by Berwyn police and the U.S. Marshal Service. The Ford County Sheriff's Office was expected to pick him up for transfer to the Ford County Jail later Thursday.

If convicted, all three men face a potential sentence of six to 30 years in prison for the most serious of the charges, the Class X felony.

Bane said Cerritos was charged additionally with driving on a revoked license and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In addition to the FBI's Champaign office and Illinois State Police, Bane said, Paxton police were assisted by the Iroquois County Sheriff's Office, the Ford County Sheriff's Office and the Gibson City Police Department.

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