Kidnap Impostor to Plead Guilty to Smart Extortion

Kidnap Impostor to Plead Guilty to Smart Extortion

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The South Carolina man who posed as a kidnaper and demanded $3 million for Elizabeth Smart's safe return will plead guilty to extortion and sending threatening communications, U.S. prosecutors said Wednesday.

Walter Kenneth Holloway, 18, who had nothing to do with the girl's disappearance, was arrested last November by FBI agents while allegedly typing his latest ransom demands by e-mail.

His case will be handled in his hometown of Charleston, S.C., because he agreed not to fight the charges, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Paul Warner in Utah.

"It's still our case but they're going to take the plea down there," she said.

The defendant's lawyer, Lionel Lofton, didn't return three messages Thursday from The Associated Press and his paralegal said he was offering no comment.

No date has been set for Holloway's plea. A sentencing report is being prepared that will take into consideration Holloway's "mental health issues," Rydalch said.

Holloway lives with his family, had a job cleaning a day-care center and has been schooled at home since failing a 10th-grade exit exam three years ago, Lofton said at the defendant's initial court appearance. He was confined to home detention.

A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City indicted Holloway Nov. 20 for allegedly sending police here more than three dozen e-mails in which he claimed to be the "only real kidnapper."

He threatened to hurt the girl and demanded, "Tell Ed (Smart, the girl's father) he can have Elizabeth back as soon as I get the ransom," according to charging documents.

On June 5, Elizabeth, then 14, was kidnapped from her bedroom. A nationwide search for the teen followed her abduction.

Elizabeth was found March 12 walking down the street of a Salt Lake City suburb with self-described prophet Brian Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. They have been charged with kidnapping Elizabeth last June from her bedroom and face trial this fall.

Shortly after Holloway's arrest, Ed Smart told a news conference, "It makes me sick to think an 18-year-old would destroy his life by doing something like this."

He said it kept authorities from devoting full attention to finding his daughter.

The FBI found Holloway, who was using the screen name "Elizabethsmartkidnapper," by serving his Internet service provider with a subpoena for account information.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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