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Rattlesnake Murder Plot Acquittal

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Herbert Beck – one of the men behind the infamous rattlesnake murder plot (pictured above on the left) – got off Tuesday with five years probation and strict instructions not to gamble.

Beck had been a player and investor with the Wheat Ridge-based Amateur Poker Tour, which is currently being investigated for securities fraud, (Free Poker Tour is Dead Man’s Hand, September 27), when he hooked up with private investigator Christopher Steelman last year. Beck was owed $60,000 by APT, and he believed owner Matthew Sowash was hiding money. Beck and Steelman allegedly plotted to kill or extort money from Sowash, and sent him a series of threatening emails.

Both men were arrested in August and charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and extortion, and held on $500,000 bonds. It was a detail in the arrest affidavit – Beck and Steelman’s talks about trapping Steelman’s legs in a box full of rattlesnakes – that garnered the case national notoriety.

In September, Steelman reached a deal with prosecutors that cut his bond to $10,000 and dropped the murder and kidnapping charges. Beck took a similar deal in November that reduced his bond to $25,000.

At Beck’s sentencing, Jefferson County District Court Judge M.J. Menendez granted him probation plus the 93 days he’d already served. She said it appeared he had a problem with gambling, and ordered treatment if recommended by a mental health evaluation. In addition to not gambling, she said he needed to stay away from weapons and convicted felons.

Steelman’s sentencing is Feb. 4.

-- Jessica Centers

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