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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Woman Denies Role in Kidnapping of Son, 5

November 29, 2000

MALIBU — Weeping in court, a Calabasas woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that she arranged the kidnapping of her 5-year-old son to get ransom money from her unwitting husband.

Malibu Court Judge Lawrence Mira set bail for Rajvinder Kaur at $5 million, citing allegations that Kaur had embezzled money from her husband's business in the past, and noting that the two had been estranged until recently.

Sheriff's investigators say Kaur, 41, wanted to get the $200,000 ransom to repay debts in her native India.

But that scenario was disputed by her defense lawyer, Donald Re, who pointed out that the ransom "would have been her own money" too.

"The husband is completely supportive of her," Re said. "He's here to post her bond."

Teja Singh, the husband, sat in court with a small group of family members Tuesday. Occasionally, the couple made eye contact, causing Kaur to break into tears a number of times. Singh refused to comment on the case.

Two of the others charged in the case, Tajinder Singh, 36, and Balwinder Singh, 25, also pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, child abuse and burglary in Mira's courtroom Tuesday. Their bail was set at $500,000.

A third defendant, Jaswinder Gurdeep Singh, 31, is in custody in Denver and he may be extradited to Los Angeles as soon as today, prosecutors said.

Singh is a common Indian surname, and prosectors say they are not sure if the couple and the three male defendants are related. Re said one of the men may be a cousin of either Kaur or Teja Singh.

During the bail hearing, sheriff's Det. Phillip Martinez said Kaur blurted out that she had been "blackmailed" by Tajinder Singh and Balwinder Singh.

He didn't elaborate in court, and refused to comment later.

The investigator also said Kaur and Teja Singh were awarded $8 million in a 1991 insurance settlement that he characterized as a possible "scam." He said one or more of the other defendants may have aided in the kidnapping in anger at not being given a cut.

Kaur's attorney called the allegation a fiction. Martinez would not elaborate on his comments outside of the courtroom.

Investigators say Kaur conspired with the three men in the abduction of the youngest of her four children, Parmuir Singh, from the family's home in the gated Calabasas community of Oak Creek Estates on Aug. 8.

That night, two masked gunmen broke into the home, tying up Kaur, Singh and the children, kidnapping the 5-year-old boy, and leaving a $200,000 ransom note. The boy turned up a day later at a store in Oxnard.

A preliminary hearing for the three defendants was set for Dec. 22.

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