URBANA — An Indianapolis man has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for conspiring to extort $20,000 from a Champaign area man.
On Thursday, Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. McCuskey sentenced John J. Kochowiec, 38, of Indianapolis, to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Kochowiec, also known as John Jay, pleaded guilty on Sept. 2 to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, according to Sharon Paul, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Kochowiec learned that the Champaign area man was meeting periodically in Indianapolis with Angela Lanning, 33, of Indianapolis, a woman with whom he had a previous relationship. The Champaign man had met Lanning while she was working at a dance club in Indianapolis in November 2007.
Kochowiec began calling the victim, sending him text messages and mailing him letters from September through December 2009, threatening to tell the victim's wife about his relationship with the Indianapolis woman unless the victim gave him $20,000.
After the victim told his story to the Champaign County sheriff's office, an investigator began using an undercover email account to send messages to Kochowiec, pretending to be the victim.
Then, on Feb. 5, 2010, the victim met Lanning in the parking lot of a Danville restaurant to give her the $20,000. The woman was arrested when she began to leave.
Kochowiec was placed in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after he was arrested on July 5, 2011.
Lanning pleaded guilty on June 3, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 3.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service assisted the Champaign County sheriff's office with the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller prosecuted Kochowiec.