ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A federal judge, on Friday, sentenced a St. Louis businessman to 20 years in prison for the kidnapping and torture of a Maplewood man.
Judge Audrey Fleissig called Todd Beckman, the founder of Bam Brands (parent company of Massage Luxe), the driving force behind the 2016 kidnapping of Ellis Athanas, III.
Caleb and Blake Laubinger pleaded guilty to kidnapping Athanas from his home and holding him in the basement of a house in Pacific to force him to repay the $15,000 in cash and 24 pounds of marijuana he stole from Caleb Laubinger's home. Laubinger was a drug dealer working for Beckman.
In court, Athanas said Beckman showed up within minutes and took part in beating, kicking and stomping on him. Athanas said he was tasered as many as 50 times and had his hair, that measured 26 inches, shaved off.
Athanas also testified that Beckman "dry-fired" an unloaded gun next to his head and said "You're going to die."
"It was the craziest thing that's ever happened to me in my life. I really thought I was going to die and never get to home to see my family," said Athanas.
On the second day, Athanas was moved to a shipping container in Fenton where he was held overnight.
"And the story he tells is abject terror," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Davis said in court. "He's told he's going to die, he'll never see his parents again. There are references to Hell's Angels and guns are pressed to his head. He's tasered several times with a taser, he's shocked. The pictures of his injuries from the hospital sort of tell the story."
Photos were shown in court Friday of the gun that Beckman used to beat Athanas over the head and then threaten his life. Then they showed photos of the bruised and swollen face of Athanas, which were taken when he went to the hospital after being released.
Judge Fleissig described two sides of Beckman; one being a successful businessman and family man and the other being the drug trafficker who put his victim through 'Three days of terror.'
Beckman claimed he didn't remember personally pistol whipping Athanas or putting a gun to his head.
Athanas was set free after his parents paid $27,000, officials said.
Athanas testified at the sentencing, saying he has a torn labrum in his shoulder, nerve damage and numbness to his hands and feet from the tight zip-ties.
He said he also has been diagnosed with PTSD.
Before handing down the 20 year sentence, Judge Fleissig said, "I find the whole situation simply appalling."
In exchange for pleading guilty late last year, a pair of firearms charges were dropped and prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than 20 years. Beckman could have received a life sentence.
Copyright 2018 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved