A Dupo man was found guilty today of kidnapping and beating an 18-year-old woman following a three-day jury trial in federal court in East St. Louis.

During trial, jurors heard evidence that Thomas Cureton, 30, dealt crack cocaine across from Franklin Elementary School in Belleville,
possessed a firearm, and took a woman to Washington Park, where
he then bound and beat her extensively while threatening to disfigure her with a knife and placing a firearm to her head while threatening to kill her.

Cureton then called family members of the kidnapped woman and demanded ransom money for her release. The kidnapped woman's grandfather testified that Cureton said, "I'm going to keep hurting her until I get my money."

"Jurors did a great job in helping to remove a very violent offender from our community," said U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton. "Their actions make this area a better place for all."

Jurors found Cureton guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, guilty of three counts of distribution of crack cocaine near a school, guilty of one count of interstate communication of a ransom demand, guilty of one count of attempted extortion affecting interstate commerce, and guilty of two counts of using a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence.

Jurors found Cureton not guilty on one count of distribution of a controlled substance.

The case was investigated by the Illinois State Police, the St. Clair County Drug Task Force Unit, the Belleville Police Department, the Glen Carbon Police Department, and the Working Against Violent Elements (WAVE) detail.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin Burke and Don Boyce.

At his sentencing in District Court, currently set for 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 28, Cureton faces up to life imprisonment.

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