College student admits role in Rhode Island luxury car theft

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2011 8:53 PM
College student admits role in Rhode Island luxury car theft

By Zach Howard

CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) - A college student admitted his role on Friday in a violent luxury car theft in Rhode Island in which he stuffed a woman into a suitcase and a male classmate into a storage bag, authorities said.

Zhengpeng Hu, who was attending college in New England, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence to charges of kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Peter Neronha said in a statement.

Hu had been indicted in August in the scheme to steal a classmate's luxury SUV worth $80,000. He told the judge that he and an accomplice, Shengfeng Cui, 27, of East Providence, had attacked the classmate and a woman in a Providence apartment in April and then kidnapped the man, Neronha said.

The woman was tied up, put into a suitcase and warned not to call police, and the man was assaulted, bound, blindfolded and stuffed into a storage bag, Neronha said.

The sack was then placed in the man's 2011 Porsche SUV and driven away. Later, he was put into a second car, driven to an apartment in Massachusetts and held there, restrained with duct tape and plastic ties, Neronha said.

The woman eventually freed herself and sought help from a neighbor, Neronha said. The man also later broke free.

"About two hours after being left alone in the apartment by his abductors, the victim was able to free himself and sought help from an apartment manager," Neronha said.

The prosecutor said police later found Hu on the roof of the building and arrested him. The victim's Porsche was later recovered in Rhode Island, as was a second vehicle used in the abduction.

Neronha said a federal arrest warrant was issued for the second defendant, Cui, who was suspected of fleeing the country just after the kidnapping.

Hu, a Chinese citizen, remains in custody and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when sentenced by Judge Mary Lisi in April 2012. The college Hu had been attending was not identified.

(Reporting by Zach Howard; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Johnston)