Oceanside man gets 1 year in kidnap plot

He's ashamed of his actions, he says

San Diego Union-Tribune/July 1, 2005
By Onell R. Soto

An Oceanside man was sentenced to a year in a Sacramento jail yesterday for plotting to kidnap an Oregon investor in hopes of recovering $3.8 million lost by members of a spiritual group.

William "Bill" Calder, 52, has been jailed since his arrest April 21 and, with good behavior, should be free in about six months, a defense lawyer said.

Calder and a Sacramento-area man pleaded no contest May 31 to solicitation to kidnap the investor. In the plea bargain, prosecutors agreed to seek no more than a year in jail for both men.

"The behavior described by the police officers sounds so much worse than they seemed at the time it was occurring," Calder said in a letter to the judge asking for a lesser sentence. "I am honestly ashamed and embarrassed by my actions."

He said he "crossed the line" in an effort to get financial information from a laptop computer to recover money from someone he considered "a bad person."

Talk of the kidnapping attempt was a ruse to get the other man, Kevin Westman, 41, an investigator from the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights, interested in the case, Calder said.

"No one was going to kidnap or torture anyone," he said.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gerald S. Bakarich gave Calder and Westman the maximum sentence and placed them on probation for five years.

In an interview, Calder's son said the sentence is uncalled for. "He's not a dangerous person," Russell Calder said.

Sacramento sheriff's detectives began investigating the case April 20 after an informant said Calder and Westman were plotting to kidnap the Oregon man to torture him into telling where he was hiding the money. The plan was to abduct him as he stopped in the state capital on his way to visit his daughter in San Diego, detectives said.

After Westman was arrested, he called Calder while detectives recorded the conversation, according to a probation report prepared for the judge.

"Calder described in detail how he was going to kidnap, secure and torture the victim," senior probation officer Michael Craft wrote in the report. He "described kidnapping the victim by using a Taser gun, duct tape, plastic handcuffs and blindfolding him."

The Oregon man told detectives that Calder had threatened him repeatedly and confronted him in December, according to the report.

The victim said he had invested money for members of the San Diego-based spiritual group called Miracle of Love and lost millions of dollars through bad investments and by taking it after becoming greedy.

He said he belonged to the group, which describes itself on a Web site as based on an intensive "six days of profound, deep spiritual work."

He was not named in the report but was identified by defense lawyers in court documents as [Mr. H.], of Grants Pass, Ore.

Calder, formerly the manager of an Oceanside strip club, said in the letter to the judge that he works as a bounty hunter and "asset recovery specialist."

He said he was hired by 19 of more than 90 investors who had lost more than $4 million. He said police rebuffed all the investors.

He said he had [Mr. H.] under surveillance and had found several of his overseas accounts.

But then, late in 2002, [Mr. H.] was charged with possession of child pornography in Oregon and his accounts were closed, Calder wrote.

"I believed, however, the information I needed was on his laptop computer," Calder wrote. He hoped to get close enough to the computer, and using a wireless communications device, access the account numbers inside.

"I was going to take the information I recovered and run to civil court with a lawsuit," Calder said. "In my zeal to recover my clients' funds and my enthusiasm for . . . new technology, I crossed the line."

He said he described the effort to get close to the laptop like an operation out of a spy movie to get Westman, the Sacramento investigator, to work cheap.

"I spoke of things I never intended to actually carry out," he said.

[Mr. H.] pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge in federal court and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 11, according to court records.

Meanwhile, a prosecutor in Sacramento says he knows of no criminal investigation against [Mr. H.], who admitted to detectives that he took his clients' money.

[Mr. H.]'s lawyer said he would have no comment on the case.

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