A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a Baltimore man to more than 30 years in prison for extorting money from a man who failed to fully repay a debt and was later fatally shot, the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Matthew Hightower, 34, received 380 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for collection of a debt by extortionate means, and use of interstate facilities for extortion resulting in death of David Wutoh in Baltimore County in 2013.
Hightower worked as a delivery driver for co-defendant Harry Crawford, who owned RX Resources and Solutions. Crawford, 56, of Baltimore, asked Hightower to lend his longtime friend, Wutoh, $15,000, which Wutoh promised to pay back $20,000. Crawford also agreed to lend Wutoh $6,000.
When Wutoh did not pay either debt back, prosecutors said Hightower and Crawford began threatening Wutoh to repay the loans beginning in May 2013. Wutoh eventually paid Hightower $6,000 of the $20,000 he had promised, but not the full amount.
Prosecutors said Hightower shot Wutoh seven times through the window at a home on the unit block of Aldeburgh Court in Rosedale on September 22, 2013. Hightower fled the scene. Investigators said phone records placed him in the area at the time of the shooting. He was convicted by a federal jury on Sept. 22, after a seven-day trial.
Hightower's attorney did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Hightower and co-defendant Elma Myles, 52, of Baltimore, are scheduled to go to trial on charges related to a health care fraud scheme on January 23. Hightower remains detained.
Crawford pleaded guilty on Tuesday to collection of a debt by extortionate means; conspiracy to commit health care fraud in connection with schemes to defraud Medicaid and other health benefit programs of more than $1.2 million; and conspiracy to defraud the United States, for not reporting income from the health care fraud scheme on his taxes, resulting in over $125,000 in taxes owed.
His sentencing is scheduled for March 28. Crawford is released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.