WILMINGTON, NC – A Fayetteville woman was sentenced today to 90 months in prison for her role in a December 2018 kidnapping conspiracy. On April 8, 2021, Merianda Gray pleaded guilty to the charge. She was also sentenced to serve 5 years of probation and to pay $2,000.00 in restitution.

According to court documents, in December 2018, Gray and two co-defendants, Yomere Juan Busbee and James Calvin McEachern, Jr., held three adult victims and a two-year-old child in a hotel room against their will for several hours. after Busbee, an abusive pimp and drug dealer, believed he was missing several hundred dollars and accused the victims of stealing it. During the incident, Busbee, McEachern and Gray threatened the victims and did not allow them to leave. Several of the victims were physically and sexually assaulted and Taserized. Eventually, one of the victims was able to get a message to a family member who called the authorities. Busbee and McEachern fled after learning authorities were on the way, and three of the victims were able to escape. Fayetteville Police Department officers were able to retrieve the final victim from the room without incident. Co-defendant McEachern previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and is awaiting sentencing. Co-accused Busbee was charged with five counts: conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping, including of a minor, conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine base (crack), possession of a firearm in the context of drug trafficking. offense and criminal in possession of a gun. In September 2022, a jury found Busbee guilty on all counts after a three-day trial, and sentencing is pending.

Michael Easley, Jr. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement following sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fayetteville Police Department led the investigation. Former Assistant US Attorney Erin Blondel and Assistant US Attorney Bryan Stephany prosecuted the case.

Court documents and related information can be found on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina website or on PACER by searching for Case #5: 20-CR-00393-M.

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