Man found guilty in Franklin County kidnapping

James and Sandra Helm
James and Sandra Helm(New York State Police)
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 11:22 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2023 at 11:23 AM EST
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MONTREAL (WWNY) - One of the men involved in kidnapping a Franklin County couple more than two years ago has been found guilty, a news report says.

According to the Montreal Gazette, a jury found Gary Arnold guilty on Sunday after deliberating for several days following a trial in a Montreal court.

James Helm Sr., who was 76 at the time, and his wife Sandra, who was 70, were taken to Magog, Quebec, after they were kidnapped from their Moira home on September 27, 2020. They traveled by pickup to Akwesasne, then by boat into Canada.

The Helms were found safe and returned home a few days later. Sandra Helm testified against Arnold at his trial.

Arnold was found guilty to two counts each of kidnapping and extortion and one count of conspiracy. The sentencing phase of his trial starts next month.

Four other men have already pleaded guilty to their roles in the kidnapping.

The newspaper reports that the Helms were kidnapped in an attempt to recover losses from a failed cocaine deal. The couple’s grandson, Mackenzie Helm, was arrested a week earlier when he tried to sell 50 kilograms of cocaine to what turned out to be a law enforcement agent.

The kidnappers were apparently unaware that the younger Helm had been arrested.

The kidnapping was discovered when James Helm Sr. failed to report for work. At the time, he was highway superintendent for the town of Moira.