A year after Jolen Ghorbani was abducted at gunpoint, robbed and beaten, he sent an Instagram message to one of his kidnappers. Ghorbani gloated at Tray Sherman, who faced a kidnapping charge and the likelihood of prison time. Then he made an invitation. “Call me if you want to finesse trial,” Ghorbani said in the June 2022 message. Ghorbani, who was set to testify in Sherman’s trial after Sherman pleaded not guilty, repeatedly offered either to decline testifying or lie on the stand to exonerate Sherman in exchange for a bribe of $5,000, according to Instagram chat logs in a criminal complaint. “Either you cough off up sum bread or sit in the feds for next 20 years,” Ghorbani allegedly wrote to Sherman. “Your choice my boy.” On Friday, Ghorbani, 28, was sentenced in Maryland to 18 months in federal prison for bribery of a witness, in a trial for a crime in which he was a victim, reports the Washington Post. A month earlier, Sherman was sentenced to 10½ years in prison for kidnapping Ghorbani.
Ghorbani told investigators he was at the MGM National Harbor hotel and casino in Oxon Hill, Md., in February 2021 when he met up with two men for a drug deal. Sherman drove Ghorbani and the third person from the MGM to the Wharf waterfront development in nearby Washington, D.C. Ghorbani allegedly told investigators that after acquiring cocaine for Sherman and the other man, two more men entered the car and the group threatened Ghorbani with guns. The four men allegedly took Ghorbani at gunpoint, beat him and threatened his life. Two men returned to Ghorbani’s MGM room and stole more than $10,000 from his hotel room safe. The other two took Ghorbani’s watch, wallet, phone and the cocaine he’d obtained before eventually releasing him. Phone conversations tapped by investigators captured Sherman, the three other men and one additional accomplice discussing kidnappings before and after the assault on Ghorbani. The same month, Ghorbani was served a subpoena to testify as a witness in Sherman’s trial, scheduled for July. On June 5, Ghorbani allegedly made the first of several offers to rig Sherman’s trial. An unnamed witness read the messages on Sherman’s account and relayed them to Sherman. On the morning of June 18, Ghorbani responded by making his offer to Sherman again, taunting him with the prospect of prison time. He named a price of $5,000, paid in cryptocurrency, to aid Sherman in court.