Kelvin Melton, the 51-year-old high-ranking gang member convicted of orchestrating the kidnapping of a Wake County prosecutor’s father in 2014 from inside his state prison cell, received a life sentence on Thursday in federal prison.
Melton, who was convicted in June by a jury of seven men and five women, is to be incarcerated at a federal prison in Florence, Colo., where inmates are locked in their cells for all but one hour of the day.
The prison is known for housing inmates deemed the most dangerous and in need of the highest control.
Melton was convicted of being the mastermind of the kidnapping of Frank Janssen, the father of Wake County assistant district attorney Colleen Janssen. Frank Janssen testified during the two-week trial that he still suffered from emotional and physical injuries related to his abduction in April 2014 from his home in Wake Forest.
Melton, prosecutors said, coordinated a multi-state scheme, instructing gang members in his lower ranks to drive from Atlanta to Wake Forest to exact revenge on the Wake prosecutor who tried the case in state court that resulted in his being declared a violent habitual felon – a designation that brought him a life prison sentence in the North Carolina prison system also.
Melton, a leader in the United Bloods Nation gang who testified in his defense at the June trial, denied having a role in what he called a “stupid” plan.
His defense team tried to cast doubt on the witnesses for the prosecution, many who had criminal records themselves.
But the jury found Melton guilty of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, attempted kidnapping and a firearms charge related to conspiracy.
Frank Janssen was taken from his home on April 5, 2014, and driven to an apartment in Atlanta by his abductors. He was tied to a chair and held in a closet while Janssen’s family and federal agents began a multi-state search for him, using wire taps to monitor texts and phone calls. Prosecutors contended that Melton gave instructions from inside prison throughout the scheme, sending more than 120 texts and calling his underlings on speaker phone before and after the kidnapping.
A team of federal agents rescued Janssen on April 9, 2014. He was reunited with his family a day later.