A jury convicts a Quebec man of kidnapping and extorting a New York couple in September 2020

A Quebec man was found guilty Sunday of multiple charges in the September 2020 kidnapping of a couple in their 70s in upstate New York.

a jury Convicted Gary Arnold on five counts, including kidnapping, extortion and conspiracy to kidnap James and Sandra Helm of Moira, New York

The Helm family were removed from their home and smuggled by boat through the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne to Quebec, where they were interned in a cottage in Magog, Quebec. He spent two days before being rescued unharmed by the Quebec Police Tactical Unit on September 29, 2020.

Prosecutors said Arnold was one of four men behind the conspiracy to kidnap the couple.

The crown claimed the couple were kidnapped with 50 kilograms of cocaine, $3.5 million in cash, or as leverage to retrieve their grandson Mackenzie, who was arrested for drugs in Vermont six days earlier.

A total of 10 calls were made to the couple’s son, Michael Helm, seeking ransom.

James Helm died before his trial, but Sandra Helm said Arnold was one of two masked men in the bedroom when the couple were kidnapped on the night of September 27, 2020. testified that it was

Arnold’s prepaid cell phone was also found in a cell tower near Helm’s home when he was kidnapped. It was because of his contacts and knowledge of how to enter Quebec via the Akwesasne Mohawk Reserve.

Prosecutors said phone records suggested Arnold was in constant contact with the co-conspirators.

Arnold was never seen at the cottage where the helmet was kept, about 125 kilometers southeast of Montreal.

Four other accomplices were arrested the same day Helms was rescued.

Arnold is intercepted in a farmer’s field and has his phone seized. He was arrested on October 1, 2020.

Arnold, 54, testified at trial that he acted at the risk of his life and family, knew nothing of the kidnapping plot, never met any of the Helms, and denied ever being at the couple’s home. bottom.

He said he followed orders from a man named “Big” who was instructed to perform various tasks such as transporting phone calls, sending text messages, and picking up catheters needed by Sandra Helm. rice field.

Arnold said he received a threatening letter at his home just days before Helms was kidnapped summoning him to a meeting. He said he showed him a picture of his wife and daughter.

Arnold testified that he acted out of fear when he chose to do what Big asked him to do instead of going to the authorities.

His lawyers argued that his involvement was “non-criminal” and that threats were the basis for his actions.

A dozen jurors returned their verdict after being placed in isolation on February 7 and began deliberations the following day. was not

Arnold faced seven indictments, but two forced detentions were dropped.

The case will return to the sentencing stage on March 6.

Sidasa Banerjee