Kidnappers' released on time served

Two men originally arrested on charges of felony kidnapping, where sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to lesser charges of false imprisonment.

Sam Grim, 19, and Thomas Johnson, 27, were released from Carson City Jail on minimal sentences. Judge Michael Griffin said the original charges that the men were linked to a kidnapping or even an amended charge of false imprisonment were questionable in light of the evidence.

"There was all sorts of things going on, but not false imprisonment," he said, speculating on reports that the incident was simply a drug deal gone bad.

Grim, Johnson, and a third suspect, 23-year-old James Watkins, were arrested Jan. 8 when deputies responded to reports of a kidnapping. The man who was originally believed to be the victim reported an assault, but has not been in contact with deputies or prosecutors since. Charges were reduced to false imprisonment when it was learned that the man volunteered to go with the suspects.

"This incident before you was not that egregious," said Grim's attorney Kay Armstrong. Bill Rogers, who represented Johnson, said he would have loved to challenge the charges in a trial, but that his client just wanted to "get it behind him."

Two guns, a .44-caliber Smith & Wesson and a .38-caliber semi-automatic, were confiscated near the scene of the arrest in a gas station parking lot on South Carson Street. At least one of the guns was thrown out of the window, the report said.

Watkins was released into federal custody in Reno to face charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded innocent and is awaiting a May 23 trial in Chief Judge Howard D. McKibben's courtroom. He could be sentenced to 10 years in federal prison if found guilty. Other charges stemming from the incident in Carson City were dropped when he was transferred to Reno.

After reading a sentencing report that indicated Grim's alleged involvement with a Stockton satellite of the Crips gang, Griffin warned him "If you don't reform your life, you'll either end up dead or in jail."

Grim was sentenced to time served after 40 days and Johnson was sentenced to 5 1/2 months jail time to be served concurrent to a sentence he is serving in Washoe County Jail on unrelated charges. Johnson's sentence was stiffer because of a more extensive arrest record, Griffin said. A sentence of 1 year in Carson City Jail was recommended by Deputy District Attorney Matt Jensen.

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