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4 MEN PLEAD GUILTY IN ABDUCTION OF UTAHN

Four of seven men charged with kidnapping a local businessman have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to help the government prosecute the remaining three defendants.

The three - including Hong Kong millionaire John Wong and his nephew - will stand trial Feb. 13.The seven were indicted in the Dec. 21 kidnapping of Carl W. Martin, one of the founders of Goldcor, a Florida stock scam that defrauded investors of tens of millions of dollars.

Their trial was originally scheduled for Sept. 19, but U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene postponed it because a superseding indictment filed only a few weeks ago added Wong as a defendant and added a conspiracy charge for each of the seven defendants.

The four men - three from Phoenix and one from Roy - pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge Friday in exchange for the government's dismissal of the more serious kidnapping charge. The deal will likely mean less jail time for all four. They can't serve more than five years in prison on the conspiracy charge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Warner said. But they could have gotten "up to life" on the kidnapping charge.

The four will be sentenced Nov. 15.

Friday's hearing was filled with out-of-state attorneys eager to catch their planes.

When several asked to make their motions first, Greene turned his attention to departure times.

"Let's prioritize," he said. "What time is your flight," he asked one lawyer.

"My plane's at 4 p.m.," the attorney replied.

"Ours is at 4:30 p.m.," one attorney said, speaking for himself and two others.

Greene heard the 4 p.m. man first.

The plea agreements require the Roy defendant, Paul Siewiec, to testify against Wong, nephew Sean Chase and co-defendant Joseph Klei-man at trial.

"The others are simply agreeing to tell us what they know," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Warner. "We'll evaluate that" before deciding if the other three will also testify, he said.

Siewiec has been out of jail on bond since the kidnapping because of his earlier cooperation with federal prosecutors, Warner said. The remaining three are incarcerated in the Salt Lake County Jail.

Wong, 56, is the focus of the federal case. He allegedly ordered the other six to kidnap Martin in a bid to collect $3.5 million Wong invested in Goldcor.

A slight, reserved man, the millionaire sat at the back of Greene's courtroom.

When Greene announced the trial date, Wong took out a pocket calendar and carefully wrote the date down.

The businessman was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Ronald Boyce an hour before his co-defendants pleaded guilty.

Boyce forbade Wong to travel to Hong Kong, where his family manufactures denim. But the magistrate allowed Wong to travel to his current home in Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as fly to London and travel within the United States.

The arrangement is "beautiful," said New York attorney Paul Rao, Wong's counsel. "I am very happy with the justice here. I wish justice in New York was like this."

Boyce required Wong to report to the federal probation office every Monday and Friday. Rao must also send a letter to the court every time Wong travels between Canada, the United States and England.

Wong owns homes in London and California as well as Canada.

His family's textile company in Hong Kong was started by his grandfather, he said. "We make blue jeans. Very basic items," he said.

Wong also buys and builds rental properties in several countries.

Wong has lent his brother-in-law money to pay for nephew Sean Chase's attorney, Rao said.

Martin and friend Paul Brown ran Goldcor in the mid-80s, using a Utah shell corporation to launch the scam.

The men claimed they could extract gold from black Costa Rican sand, flying prospective investors to Costa Rica to witness the process.

The Securities Exchange Commission discovered the fraud, shut the company down and obtained indictments against Martin and Brown. Martin served a prison sentence. Brown was murdered two days before a court hearing on the Goldcor charges. His murder has never been solved.