He Was Kidnapped, Then Got Prison Time Himself

'This is one of the strangest cases in the history of that courthouse,' man's own lawyer says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2023 7:59 AM CST
Updated Feb 27, 2023 8:13 AM CST
He Was Kidnapped, Then Got Prison Time Himself
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/txking)

Two years ago, Jolen "Jay" Michael Ghorbani was kidnapped at gunpoint, beaten, and robbed, but luckily, the Virginia man survived the attack, and the perpetrators were arrested and sentenced to prison. Now, however, Ghorbani himself has been hit with jail time, after Maryland prosecutors say he threatened and attempted to bribe one of his kidnappers ahead of the latter's trial, reports WUSA9. According to an affidavit filed against that abductor, Tray David Sherman, Ghorbani was taken from Maryland to Washington, DC, on February 3, 2021, after meeting up for what he thought was a drug deal, per the Washington Post.

After four men assaulted and robbed Ghorbani, they released him, and "police said they found Ghorbani with bloody wounds on his face and a broken nose," per the Post. Sherman was arrested at the end of March and pleaded not guilty, setting up a July trial. Then, in early June, Ghorbani, subpoenaed as a witness in that trial, reached out to Sherman via social media to threaten and intimidate him, per a release from the US Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland. "Lol your gonna sit in Prison next decade," he wrote to Sherman on Instagram, according to indictment documents cited by the Post.

"[C]all me If you want to finesse trial," he added, including his phone number, per prosecutors. In a series of follow-up messages, Ghorbani asked for $5,000, to be paid in cryptocurrency, from Sherman; in return, Ghorbani would offer false testimony or refuse to testify, per the indictment. The indictment also notes that Ghorbani bragged about his interactions with Sherman, allegedly texting another witness, "I'm auctioning off his freedom." That witness is said to have replied: "Unsend the messages. Don't know how lawyers will look at that." Sure enough, Ghorbani was charged with bribery of a witness in October and pleaded guilty to that charge in January.

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On Friday, US District Judge George J. Hazel sentenced Ghorbani, 28, to 18 months in prison. After his stay behind bars, Ghorbani will have three years of supervised release. "This is one of the strangest cases in the history of that courthouse," Ghorbani's own attorney, Stuart Berman, tells the Post, adding that he thought his client received a fair sentence. "I've certainly never seen a case with these kinds of facts before." As for the others, Sherman changed his plea to guilty for his role in Ghorbani's kidnapping and was sentenced in January to 10 1/2 years in prison. His four co-conspirators also pleaded guilty and received between 10 and 14 years behind bars in federal prison. (More bribery stories.)

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