Former T & T Columnist Charged In Murder For Hire Plot In Florida

A 43-year-old Pembroke Pines, Florida man has appeared in a Fort Lauderdale federal magistrate court on a charge that he used the US mail system to solicit, plan, and pay for the murder of his former girlfriend’s new love interest.

The Department of Justice of the US1 Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida, quoting from the criminal complaint affidavit, said the accused first piece of murder correspondence was his request to the intended hitman that said: “I need someone eliminated. I’ve been told you can arrange that. US$10,000 All in cash and upfront. Person located in Tampa.”

According to the court documents, the man, who is believed also to be a columnist for a Trinidad newspaper, is alleged to have mailed the first letter in September, and in two subsequent mailings, instructed the intended hitman to signal acceptance of the offer by posting marked sheets of paper on his store-front window, among other things.

According to the complaint affidavit, on November 10, the intended hitman received a final mailing from the accused that included a description and pictures of the man that the accused wanted killed, the victim’s home address and likely travel schedule, as well as a deadline for the murder.  The affidavit said inside the envelope was US$10,000 cash.

It is alleged that the accused left the country on a one-way ticket the same day the hitman received the cash and pictures of the intended victim.

Law enforcement officers learned of the plan.  During a secondary customs inspection of the accused when he returned from his international trip, additional evidence of the crime was uncovered, according to the affidavit.  Pursuant to a court-issued warrant, law enforcement officers arrested the accused on December 22.

The intended victim, who remains alive, is romantically involved with the accused former girlfriend, says the criminal complaint affidavit.

He is charged with one count of using interstate commerce facilities, the US mail system, in the commission of murder for hire, in violation of US laws. If convicted, the accused faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a US$250,000 fine.

A pretrial detention hearing for the accused is scheduled for December 29, in the federal magistrate court in Fort Lauderdale.

The Department of Justice in its statement said that a criminal complaint contains mere allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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