A $3,000 cocaine deal ballooned into a $3 million extortion scheme that on Monday earned a 40-year-old Grandview man six years in federal prison.
Along the way, Shelton E. Lewis, also known as Steve Johnson or just “C,” bought himself a Lamborghini, a Bentley, two Aston Martins and a Camaro, lived high in Las Vegas and Atlanta and paid off a $100,000 mortgage.
All the while the victim in the scheme, a businessman, lived in fear of being prosecuted or killed by decapitation.
Lewis, who owned a lawn care company called Green Results, had three bank accounts with small or negative balances — until 2012 when he began depositing large cashier’s and business checks.
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According to court documents, the victim initially agreed to buy $3,000 worth of cocaine from Lewis, but when police interrupted that deal, Lewis told the victim that the drug source was charging a $10,000 penalty. When the victim eventually picked up the “drugs,” he found a bag of flour.
Lewis then strung the victim along in a series of ruses, telling him that the police were on to him and he would be prosecuted unless he paid off a lawyer and a judge. The victim paid, repeatedly.
Lewis then told the victim that the drug cartel knew where he lived, and it had a present for him: a box of bullets. The victim also was told that he and his family members would have their heads chopped off.
The threats were made using a throwaway phone that the victim was instructed to obtain.
The Internal Revenue Service and the Kansas City Police Department investigated the case. Lewis pleaded guilty in March to extortion.
The court ordered Lewis to forfeit more than $3 million, another $1 million seized from his bank accounts and several of the vehicles he purchased.