There was a time when a simple threat, a glimpse of a baseball bat or a whisper mentioning you had friends to help you, would solve payment deliquencies. This week, two Lakewood CO men were arrested after they were alleged to have taken debt collection into their own hands.
The investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation began when the victim contacted them about receiving threatening emails. On Wednesday, August 15 2007, Christopher Lee Steelman, 36, was arrested in Lakewood and Herbert Paul Beck, 56, was arrested in Raton NM and bail was set at $500,000 for each man. What investigators uncovered went far beyond the threatening emails.
Beck had claimed that he had invested $36,000 in Matthew Sowash's company, the Amatuer Poker Tour in Wheat Ridge in December 2006. He also claimed that the company that stages Texas Hold'em-style poker games in Denver area bars, owed him $60,000 now with the interest added. Evidently, instead of just filing a lawsuit against Sowash, both men began devising plots to kill him.
The plan they chose was to build a wooden box for Sowash to stand in that would hold rattlesnakes. The lid of the box was to be built so that his legs could be put into it but not removed by him. They then planned to leave the rattlesnake-bitten Sowash along the side of a hiking trail. Beck even managed to disturb his own partner in crime by suggesting that they kidnap Sowash's children and use them as leverage to get the money from Sowash.
Both men have extensive criminal records and have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and extortion. Beck is being held in Raton and Steelman is being held in the Jefferson County Jail in Golden.
Sowash, who had tipped off the CBI, was shocked to find out the extent of the plot against him but stated that he was glad that the CBI had "taken care" of the men. While I do have think they used a bit of creativity in trying to pull off their crime, I think it would have just been a lot less difficult to file a lawsuit.