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The two men accused in the plot to kill Amateur Poker Tour owner Matt Sowash appeared in Jefferson County Court today, September 26.

Last December, Herb Beck, left, invested $36,000 in the poker company, which the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating for securities fraud. In March, he hired private investigator Christopher Steelman to look into APT; he believed Sowash was hiding money from him and other investors. The two then allegedly plotted to kill or extort money from Sowash, and sent him threatening e-mails on June 18.

But the following week, Steelman went to the victim to warn him of what he said were Beck’s intentions, and he also provided the information to the CBI investigator.

Last month, Steelman and Beck were both charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and extortion. In court today, prosecutor Jim Stanley said he’d reached an agreement with Steelman’s public defender that Steelman's bond should be reduced from $500,000 to $10,000 and the murder and kidnapping charges dropped. The judge agreed.

Steelman exchanged a relieved glance with his wife, Lataine, before officers escorted him out of the courtroom. She had brought their four-year-old son and seven-month-old infant, and as she fed the baby in the hallway, she cried. “It’s good, but I wish it was lower,” she said of the reduced bond. “Because with the kids, it’s hard. The kids need him.”

Lataine Steelman said she couldn’t believe that things “turned out so bad” after her husband talked to the police. “He got involved with the wrong people, I guess,” she added.

Beck’s case was continued to next month, and his bond remains at $500,000. -- Jessica Centers

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