A judge in Ford County dismissed all charges against a Chicago man whom police described as the "mastermind" behind a December 2013 kidnapping and armed robbery of a Paxton businessman.
It was the prosecution's motion to dismiss the case against 43-year-old Manuel Samano-Santoyo, when he was about to stand trial in Circuit Court.
Special prosecutor Ed Parkinson indicated the prosecution would have had a difficult time proving Samano-Santoyo's involvement.
Samano-Santoyo was the fourth man charged in connection with the December incident. Samano-Santoyo was charged in February with the same offenses as three co-defendants: two counts each of armed robbery, kidnapping, and one count of aggravated battery.
The News-Gazette reported Parkinson said Samano-Santoyo was charged "under a theory of accountability, as the actual evidence in the related cases (against his co-defendants) demonstrate that he was not at the scene of the commission of the crimes ... at any time."
Samano-Santoyo, however, remained at the Ford County Jail following the dismissal of the charges against him. That is because an immigration hold has been placed on Samano-Santoyo, who is an illegal immigrant.
Samano-Santoyo is a relative of one of the other suspects, 22-year-old Eduardo Samano of Berwyn. Also charged are a 25-year-old Paxton resident; and a 25-year-old from Loda. All have pleaded not guilty.
Paxton Police had reported Joel Hastings of rural Paxton was forced into his car, restrained, and beaten with a gun and baseball bat as two Hispanic men drove him around Ford and Iroquois counties.
The two men also robbed Hastings of $300 in cash. They let Hastings leave under the condition he later provide them with $50,000 in cash or "the same value in drugs," according to police accounts.
One defendant was arrested after he was seen retrieving $50,000 in cash that the FBI had placed in a garbage can at the park in Loda on Jan. 15.