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Hillsborough kidnapping ‘mastermind’ found guilty

A San Mateo County jury on Thursday convicted a 68-year-old man of orchestrating the kidnapping of a Hillsborough third-grader more than two decades ago.

Prosecutors alleged that in December 1995, Kevin Tayueh Lin arranged for two other men to snatch a 9-year-old girl named Kristine from the street in front of her house and hold her for an $800,000 ransom from her wealthy parents, who Lin met when he sold her father a luxury car.

After the plan fell apart and Lin was identified as a suspect, authorities said he disappeared for nearly 22 years. Lin, a native of Taiwan, resurfaced in 2017 when he tried to renew his visa and was arrested in the Los Angeles area.

The jury found Lin guilty of kidnapping for ransom, a felony that carries a sentence of seven years to life in prison, following five hours of deliberation. He will be sentenced on Aug. 23.

Testifying on the opening day of Lin’s trial two weeks ago, the now-33-year-old Kristine said she feared she would be killed during the 9-hour abduction, which began when a man pulled her into a van as she walked home from school. The kidnappers released Kristine unharmed when they realized her parents were in Taiwan and wouldn’t pay the ransom.

Kristine never saw Lin — he wasn’t in the van she was taken in, nor the motel room where she was held — but Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Nardi said during her opening statement that he “planned, financed and directed the kidnapping plot.”

Nardi said cellphone records showed that one of the kidnappers, Brian Shieh, was in contact with Lin throughout the abduction. The other suspect, John Paul Balocca, then 18, was arrested in the 1990s and spent 13 years in prison before being paroled in 2013.

Defense attorney Alex Bernstein countered that Lin had nothing to do with the abduction, which Bernstein argued was the work of Shieh, who disappeared after the crime and has never resurfaced.

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