Louisiana healthcare millionaire Lawrence Michael Handley, pled guilty Tuesday to a kidnap plot against his ex-wife in Aug. 2017
The scheme unraveled when the two captors he hired crashed their van, but drowned after jumping into a canal while trying to escape police with the wife tied up in the back of their van
Lawrence Michael Handley, 53, plotted to have his ex-wife Schanda kidnapped, what he intended to with her remains a mystery
The pair married in 2006 but after their contentious divorce in 2017 that year, he started using drugs
In August 2017, while high on meth and cocaine, his attorney said, Handley paid Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Haynes to kidnap his wife
They went to her home on Aug. 6, 2017, snatched her at gunpoint, put a bag over her head and put her in their van
As they fled, they hit traffic and started speeding up the shoulder of the road which attracted the attention of a cop, who chased them
Bracey and Haynes, both 27, from Jackson, Mississippi drowned after jumping into a canal trying to escape from police after crashing their getaway van then deciding to flee on foot, abandoning their hostage
Their bodies were recovered from the canal two days later
Schanda survived and was found in the back of the van, while Handley was arrested in a hotel four days later
Handley made his fortune in rehab centers in the South and launching companies that sold vitamins, among other things
He pled guilty on Tuesday to 2 charges and now faces 15 – 35 years behind bars
Before his plea arrangement he was looking at a life time in prison
A case of the unusual tale of a Lafayette millionaire accused of orchestrating a bizarre 2017 kidnapping plot targeting his estranged wife who was to be snatched by suspected hired kidnappers who later drowned while fleeing police came to a quiet close Monday evening after Lawrence Michael Handley accepted a plea deal. Handley, 53, has been incarcerated at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center since August 2017, when he was apprehended at a Slidell motel and arrested in the kidnapping of his estranged wife, Schanda Handley.
He appeared in court Monday shackled in an orange and tan striped jumpsuit, with a long gray beard and shoulder length graying hair. He sat calmly for hours as other cases were addressed and his team of attorneys worked with the state to reach a plea agreement; once taken up at 5 p.m. by 15th Judicial District Court Judge Scott Privat, the hearing took all of 10 minutes with the
The Louisiana millionaire has now admitted guilt to orchestrating a kidnap plot against his ex-wife. The plot unraveled when the men he hired to take her attracted the attention of cops in their haste to evade a traffic snarl up, then drowning while trying to get away from police with Schanda tied up in the back of their van.
Lawrence Michael Handley, 53, a recovering alcoholic, sold his healthcare company for $21million in 2015, two years before he filed for divorce from Schanda. The pair both claimed that the other had tried to have them killed.
On August 6, 2017, the two men – Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Haynes, both 27 from Jackson, Mississippi – went to Schanda’s home in Lafayette, La., posing as carpet steamer salesmen and snatched her at gunpoint, leaving her 14-year-old daughter behind.
Throwing a bag over her head, she was tied her up and thrown her into the back of the getaway van.
After placing Schanda in the back of their van at gunpoint, the two kidnappers drove away but they ran into traffic. Rather than wait it out, they drove up the shoulder of the road and attracted the attention of a deputy who started pursuing them.
During the police chase, the fleeing kidnappers turned off the paved road and crashed into a swampy area.
Subsequently, they abandoned the van, continuing their flight on foot and leaving Schanda tied up in the back, as they ran. The suspects decided to jump into a canal to escape the pursuing law officers.
Schanda was rescued by the deputies from the back of the van.
The kidnappers had been hired by the victim’s estranged husband, Lawrence Michael Handley.
Their instructions were to drive her to his camp near Woodville, Mississippi from her home in Lafayette, Louisiana, prosecutors said. It’s unclear why Handley wanted to kidnap his ex or if he intended to kill her.
According to his attorney, Handley was high on meth and cocaine, when he hired the men.
However, the fleeing pair Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Haynes both 27 from Jackson, Mississippi, drowned Aug. 6, 2017, trying to run away from police after crashing the van then deciding to flee on foot. Their bodies were found in the canal two days later.
Handley was arrested four days later after police tracked him down to a hotel. He had chartered a plane and had plans to leave the country.
He has since been sitting in jail.
He initially pled not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple charges, but in 2018 a judge deemed he was mentally competent to stand trial.
Appearing in court Tuesday, without fuss he pled guilty to two counts of second-degree kidnapping and one count of attempted second-degree kidnapping as part of a plea deal.
Handley made his fortune with companies that, among other things, sold vitamins. In 2015, he sold his group of recovery addiction centers which operated all over the South, for $21million.
He himself is a recovering alcoholic, according to The Clarion Ledger, and as his marriage deteriorated, he started using drugs.
Handley and Schanda married in 2006. The ending in 2017 was contentious highlighted by multiple restraining orders filed by both parties. He alleged that she was trying to have him killed.
His attorney Kevin Stockstill claims that he was not thinking clearly when he plotted to have her kidnapped because he was high on methamphetamine and cocaine.
‘It was certainly not logical thinking, but when you’re doing a lot of meth and cocaine, I guess it seemed rational to him.
‘It turned out to be a terrible decision,’ Stockstill said. He had ‘lost his mind’ on drugs.
He now faces between 15 and 35 years behind bars.
Before taking the plea deal, he was facing life in prison on an aggravated kidnapping charge.
Handley is yet to be sentenced.