A North Hollywood man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday in the kidnaping of a Los Angeles restaurateur who was held 18 hours, then released after promising his captors that he would pay them $80,000.
Julian Cevallos Vargas, 34, is the second suspect given a life sentence by San Fernando Superior Court Judge John H. Major in the abduction of Leonardo Lopez, who was taken at gunpoint from his North Hollywood home Dec. 8.
A jury in June found Vargas and Jose Francisco Ochoa, 26, also of North Hollywood, guilty of five counts of kidnaping, robbery, burglary and conspiracy.
Lopez was taken from his home, forced into a car, beaten and robbed of $11,000 in cash receipts from one of his three Los Angeles area restaurants. The two men first demanded a $200,000 ransom but later released Lopez after he promised to leave $80,000 by a phone booth at Lankershim and Magnolia boulevards, according to court testimony.
Police arrested Vargas and Ochoa a week later, after they attempted to retrieve a bag left at that location.