Rickey Pouncil didn't take a man's life. Rather, he made it so hellish that the man felt he had no other choice but to kill himself. Now Pouncil's sentenced to 13 months in prison for extortion, and owes $165,000 to his victim's family.
Beginning in 2009, Pouncil and Shannon Gura, a female acquaintance, carried out an extortion plot against Shakopee businessman Dan Kreye. Gura had lured Kreye, a married man, into thinking she liked him, and convinced him to send explicit text messages to her. She demanded that Kreye pay $65,000, or she would take the communications to his wife.
But Pouncil, who was running the scheme, only demanded more and more money until the stress became too much for Kreye, and he took his own life.
On the witness stand, Kreye's widow Susan Kreye said her husband's extortion and suicide ruined her life.
"I've done absolutely nothing wrong," she said, according to the Pioneer Press, "but I'm left with nearly $1 million in debt."
Dan Kreye's suicide note, found with his body in the Minnesota Valley Natural Wildlife Refuge, left no doubt why he was ending his life, the Pioneer Press reports.
"I am being extorted over $500,000. Best for my family and friends."
Susan Kreye also said the financial hardship caused by Pouncil's plot has forced the family to sell its home.
After Gura's initial demand, Pouncil and another woman, Christina Lynn Artac, continued to force payments from Dan Kreye, whose widow says he paid out as much as $500,000, though prosecutors could only prove $165,000 in payments. In May of 2010, the stress became too much, and Kreye took his life with a shotgun.
At Pouncil's sentencing, Hennepin County Judge Phillip Bush made it clear that Pouncil's crimes deserved more punishment than they were getting.
"If I could sentence you to a larger sentence, I certainly would be doing that," Phillips said.