Feds: Flint man pleads guilty in kidnapping case

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A second man in a Flint kidnapping case has pleaded guilty to charges, federal officials said.

James M. Elbert III, 28, of Flint, pleaded guilty last week to kidnapping and being a felon in possession of ammunition, acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch said in a statement.


Lemisch also said Elbert faces at least 15 years and up to life imprisonment. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 15, 2018, in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of Michigan by Judge Matthew Leitman in Flint.

Elbert’s co-defendant, Steven J. Bridges Jr., pleaded guilty to kidnapping and brandishing a firearm in July. He faces at least seven years and up to life imprisonment for the charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 26, 2018, by Leitman.


Federal authorities said Elbert is a known drug dealer who traveled from Arkansas to Flint to collect a debt from a Flint Township man. 

He and Bridges were armed when they kidnapped the victim from an apartment complex, officials said. The two men tied the victim up and took him to a vacant house in Flint. 

Once there, the two men tied the victim to a chair in the basement, placed a gag in his mouth and wrapped his head and neck with wrapping tape, according to authorities.

The men then called the victim's family and threatened to kill him if they didn't pay his debt, officials said. Police were able to find the victim and rescue him before he was harmed further, they said.

Elbert was discharged from prison in February after serving four years for weapons charge. He also has three prior convictions for drug charges, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Bridges is on probation for a 2016 weapons charge, the MDOC said.