UPDATE: Benanti guilty in federal case related to Elizabethton extortion, kidnapping


A Pennsylvania man accused of masterminding a four-state crime spree in 2015, including the kidnapping of a Carter County bank teller and her child, was found guilty on 23 counts in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.

Court documents obtained by News 5 show a jury returned the verdicts Tuesday morning against Michael Benanti, 44, following a 12-day trial.

Those felony counts included charges of kidnapping a teller who worked at the Northeast Community Credit Union in Elizabethton and her young son in October 2015.

Prosecutors said Benanti held the two at gunpoint and forced the teller to go into the bank and demand cash, stating he would kill both of them if she did not. The two victims were later released and not injured.

Benanti's partner in the crimes, Brian Witham, testified during the trial. He took a plea deal last March in exchange for his testimony.

Benanti is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, court officials said.

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