The victim in a federal kidnapping case — who was snatched from the casino at National Harbor in 2021 and robbed — is going to prison for 18 months.
The reason? He tried to get $5,000 from one of his attackers in exchange for not testifying or giving a false account.
“Either you cough up sum bread or sit in the feds for next 20 years,” he wrote in an Instagram direct message displayed in court records.
John “Jay” Ghorbani, 28, pleaded guilty to the “foolhardy scheme,” as his defense attorney described it, and was sentenced Friday.
Ghorbani was kidnapped from the MGM National Harbor in February 2021 by a group of men, at least one of whom was already being monitored over a federal wiretap at the time.
“Hey you got some gloves?” one of the attackers said, according to court documents. “They already snatched a n---- and all that.”
FBI task force officers found Ghorbani in Washington, D.C., with blood running down the front of his face and a broken nose. At first, he said he had been hurt falling on ice, but later said he had been lured out of the casino. Two men told him if he could get them cocaine, they would pay him and find a woman to have sex with him.
After he obtained cocaine from a source, he said, his attackers put a gun to his face and took him to the boiler room of an apartment building in Southeast D.C., where he was beaten as they stole things from his hotel room at the casino. They took $10,000 cash, casino chips and an Xbox, according to court records.
Five men were arrested and charged in the crime, including Tray David Sherman.
Beginning in June 2022, Ghorbani contacted Sherman over social media, sending taunting messages and asking to get paid.
“Call me if you want to finesse trial,” read one message.
Three weeks before Sherman’s trial, Ghorbani sent another series of messages saying he wanted $5,000.
Prosecutors say Ghorbani told another person that he was “dancing with the devil” by seeking such payments. Referring to Sherman, he said: “I’m auctioning off his freedom.”
Last month, Sherman was sentenced to 10½ years in federal prison. Four other defendants also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to between 10 and 14 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Ghorbani, who moved from Fairfax, Virginia, to Florida after the incident, was indicted by a federal grand jury in October and pleaded guilty last month. His defense attorney, in a sentencing memorandum, said his charges were a situation “straight out of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ ” in which he was being sentenced “as an accessory after the fact to his own kidnapping.” He asked that his client be sentenced to a year and a day of incarceration.
Prosecutors sought more than four years’ imprisonment, saying he showed “an immense disdain for the very system that the government was trying to use to protect” him.