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California flight school employees charged with kidnapping

The Associated Press
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FILE - This undated file combination photo provided by the Redding Police Department shows Jonathan McConkey, left, general manager at IASCO Flight Training in Redding, Calif., and Kelsi Hoser, an assistant at IASCO Flight Training. The two Northern California flight school employees who allegedly kidnapped a student pilot and tried to send him back to his native China have been charged in the case. (Redding Police Department via AP, File)

REDDING, Calif. — Two Northern California flight school employees who allegedly kidnapped a student pilot and tried to send him back to his native China have been charged in the case, authorities said.

Shasta County prosecutors charged Jonathan McConkey and his assistant, Kelsi Hoser, with kidnapping, first-degree residential burglary and false imprisonment by violence charges, the Record Searchlight reported Friday.

McConkey was also charged with making criminal threats, and Hoser was also individually charged with preventing or dissuading a witness or victim from reporting a crime, the newspaper reported.

Investigators said the pair assaulted Tianshu Shi, a student at IASCO Flight Training, at his apartment last month and forcibly took him to the city airport. The 21-year-old student who went by “Chris” sustained minor injuries.

Police said that an audio recording, as well as other information, appears to show McConkey, as well as Hoser, “acted in concert while committing the burglary and kidnapping.”

Lawyers for McConkey and Hoser said their clients deny the accusations and intend to prove their innocence.

“There’s a lot more to this case than a 3-minute undercover audio that Chris made,” John Runfola, who represents McConkey, told the newspaper. “I think that everyone is going to have a different opinion (about what happened) once the full content comes out for the public to review.”

Hoser told detectives that Shi had failed the flight school on April 1, saying he could not speak English clearly enough and could not communicate with the FAA operator.

The two were released from custody after posting $100,000 bail.

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