FLINT, MI – Two men are accused of offering upward of $100,000 in cryptocurrency “in exchange for specified acts of aggression and physical harm” to one of their business partners between June and July 2021, acts that range from burning property associated with the man to killing him.
Joshua Ray Barrett and Steven Christopher Craven are each charged with one count of solicitation of murder, a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years.
Both men were arraigned on April 13 in Genesee County District Court, where they pleaded not guilty to their charges.
Craven, of Burton, openly offered increasing amounts of cryptocurrency depending on the severity of physical harm inflicted upon the victim, with the greatest payout being for causing death and a lesser amount for inflicting “great bodily harm,” according to statements contained in a Michigan State Police report. MLive-The Flint Journal obtained those records through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Barrett, of Brighton, was present for many of the conversations in which Craven offered others money, according to the reports.
Michael Ewing, Craven’s attorney, said the case includes a “shocking lack of evidence.”
“The one and only witness had an axe to grind with Mr. Craven and his business partner,” Ewing told MLive-The Flint Journal. “After they got a PPO against the witness, these allegations appeared from thin air.”
Messages left for Kevin Nagle, an attorney for Barrett, as well as the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office were not immediately returned.
The victim first spoke with MSP troopers at the MSP Flint Post in January. He was a longtime business partner of Craven’s, having worked with him at a property management company, a fertilizer company and a club.
According to a summary of the conversation he had with troopers, the victim told authorities that two men he’d never met before had been wanting to meet with him and were in fear for his safety because his “life could be in jeopardy.”
He told police he’d been told that Craven had suggested loosening the lug nuts on his vehicle, that Craven had told people he wanted the victim to be put into the hospital, and that a payment structure had been developed to determine how much money would be paid out depending on the amount of harm done to the victim.
“(Witness) told him Craven offered him cryptocurrency to ‘take him out,’” MSP D/Sgt. Jonathan Miller wrote in a report describing the conversation he had with the victim.
“It would be the easiest $15,000 he ever made”
In January, a witness spoke with MSP Trp. Taylore Drye, saying there were multiple occasions between June and July 2021 in which Craven and Barrett solicited assistance in burning down a business affiliated with the victim.
The witness described the two men as “partners in crime” who were heavily involved in the Michigan hemp and medical marijuana industries, according to statements made to MSP investigators.
The two men had business-related tensions with the victim that had existed for a very long time. He described two instances where money was exchanged for harm to the victim. In mid-June 2021, Craven approached one individual in the presence of Barrett and offered to pay $15,000 in bitcoin or XRP cryptocurrency to burn a redacted property affiliated with the victim.
When the person declined the offer, Craven asked if he knew someone else who would be interested, adding he had a specific plan of action for successfully burning the property down.
Craven offered to drive the man down a nearby side street and said it would be the “easiest $15,000 he ever made.”
The witness told MSP about overhearing a second conversation relating to the alleged solicitation for murder in July 2021. The man said he overheard Craven tell an unknown person on the phone, “for 25, get something done with him.”
On Jan. 11, another witness told MSP that Barrett had previously said he had people who were ex-military who could take people out for him by “having them executed.”
“(Witness) felt that if the opportunity arose and they felt they could get away with it, the plan to harm (the victim) would move forward, and Craven and Barrett would either ‘burn him out or take his life,’” the detective wrote, summarizing an interview between himself and the witness.
Craven and Barrett were arrested on April 12 and lodged at the Genesee County Jail.
Both men are currently free on personal recognizance bonds. Stipulations of their bond require them to avoid contact with each other, contact with the victim in the case, not to possess or purchase firearms or ammunition and puts them under a 24-hour curfew.
Craven also is on a GPS tether.
A preliminary examination is scheduled for both men on June 3.
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