2 men face life in prison for kidnapping, conspiring to abduct several victims at gunpoint in Chicago suburbs

Two men were convicted last week of kidnapping and conspiring to abduct several victims at gunpoint in the Chicago suburbs.

Sedgwick Williams, 47, of Chicago, and Tai Hon La, 34, of Beach Park, conspired with each other and others to carry out kidnappings in the fall of 2019.  

According to prosecutors, Williams personally participated in the kidnappings that occurred in Naperville and Westchester in October and November 2019. Additionally, Williams and La attempted a third kidnapping in South Holland in December 2019.  However, their efforts to abduct the intended victim in that incident were unsuccessful, prosecutors said. The two were arrested while fleeing from the South Holland residence.

During the first kidnapping, which occurred in Naperville on Oct. 17, 2019, the conspirators posed as law enforcement officers and then handcuffed and abducted a man at gunpoint outside his electronics store before burglarizing it.

The conspirators then forced the victim into their car and transported him to a vacant unit in Chicago. The victim was physically assaulted, and the conspirators extorted his family. After the victim was released, he received medical treatment from a hospital.  

During the second kidnapping, which occurred on Nov. 16, 2019, in Westchester, the conspirators posed as DEA agents and then handcuffed and abducted a man at gunpoint outside his residence.  

The conspirators then forced the victim into his home, where they found another victim and forced them both into the basement.  Two other victims later arrived at the residence and were also forced into the basement at gunpoint, prosecutors said.  The conspirators stole cash and jewelry before fleeing the residence.

The third kidnapping occurred in South Holland on Dec. 11, 2019, but was unsuccessful.

The intended victim called 911 and police arrived on the scene before the conspirators could gain access to the house.

Following a two-week trial, a jury convicted Williams and La of participating in the kidnapping conspiracy and the attempted kidnapping in South Holland.  Williams was also convicted on individual kidnapping counts for the Naperville and Westchester kidnappings, and of falsely impersonating a federal law enforcement officer.  

La was also convicted of illegal firearm possession.

The men each face a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.  Sentencings have not yet been scheduled, prosecutors said.

Two other individuals charged in the case pleaded guilty before trial.

Ivan Avers, 36, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to participating in the kidnapping conspiracy.  Jonathan Vargas, 38, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to kidnapping the first victim in Naperville. 

Ayers and Vargas are awaiting sentencing.