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Originally published Saturday, February 24, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Actress, cousin found guilty in bizarre kidnap case

A king County jury Friday found a B-movie actress and her cousin guilty of a bizarre plot to kidnap the woman's estranged husband from his...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A King County jury Friday found a B-movie actress and her cousin guilty of a bizarre plot to kidnap the woman's estranged husband from his Lake Forest Park home and whisk him away to Las Vegas.

Bonita Money and Lewis "Cash" Money were found guilty of second-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault, and Bonita Money was also found guilty of first-degree burglary. She will face a standard sentencing range of about three to four years in prison. Lewis Money will face about 13-17 months.

"The jury came up with an appropriate verdict," said King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jim Ferrell.

Their trial, which began Feb. 1, took jurors through the ups and downs of a strange relationship rendered stranger still when the Moneys arrived on the doorstep of Zeljko Misic on the night of Oct. 12, 2005.

Along with an acquaintance, James Luther Still, the Moneys burst through the front and back doors of Misic's family home in "a coordinated attack," Ferrell said.

They used death threats and beatings to force Misic to leave with them, according to police reports. While the family called 911, the three took Misic to a hotel in Federal Way.

The Moneys were angry in part because Lewis Money had taken the blame for Misic when the two were in an auto accident together in Las Vegas, Ferrell said during the trial. Misic had no license, so Money said he had been the driver. Police arrested Money. The three supposedly wanted to intimidate Misic and have him return with them to Las Vegas, possibly to testify on Lewis Money's behalf.

Their original plan fell apart when they realized they had forgotten to grab Misic's identification and couldn't purchase an airline ticket for him, the jury was told.

When they saw news reports that they were wanted for kidnapping, they forced Misic to call police and say that he had gone with them willingly, Ferrell said.

Later, according to police reports, Misic said he was taken by force.

James Still later pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful imprisonment and one count of first-degree burglary.

Initially, police believed Lewis Money was Bonita Money's nephew. But defense attorneys later maintained they were cousins.

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Even before the kidnapping, Misic and Bonita Money had a strange relationship, Ferrell told jurors during the trial.

Bonita Money, who had roles in a handful of forgettable movies like "Lambada," "Phoenix the Warrior" and "Terror in Beverly Hills" was mostly known for getting into a well-publicized fight with "Beverly Hills 90210" star Shannen Doherty outside a Los Angeles nightclub in 1992.

Misic was dependent on his wife, Bonita Money, for everything. Ferrell said he worked for her business but never received a paycheck.

An immigrant from Bosnia, he was waiting for her to sponsor him so he could become a permanent U.S. resident.

After years of strife, Misic and Money had finally split up for good and Misic moved from their home in Las Vegas to the Seattle area in early 2005, Ferrell said.

But defense attorneys have argued that it was Misic who was guilty of deceit. He had been expecting the group at his home and had gone with them willingly, they said.

Misic lied about the incident later, believing that if he were a victim of domestic violence, he could more easily obtain legal-immigrant status, Bonita Money's attorney Brad Meryhew argued.

Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or nsinger@seattletimes.com

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