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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: murder for hire

Ex-CdA developer guilty in murder plot

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal jury has unanimously convicted a former Coeur d'Alene-area developer of crafting a murder-for-hire scheme to kill a prosecutor and key witnesses in a North Idaho drug case.

Kelly J. Polatis was found guilty Wednesday of 14 combined counts of witness tampering and using interstate commerce in the commission of a murder-for-hire. The jury acquitted Polatis of three charges. Defense attorney Lawrence Leigh says he'll appeal.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups will sentence Polatis on Sept. 30. He faces more than 130 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Polatis attempted to hire an undercover FBI agent posing as a hit man to kill five people who spoke to authorities about his involvement in a marijuana growing operation in Coeur d'Alene. Polatis was acquitted of the drug charges in 2010 and arrested on the murder-for-hire charges the same day.
  

May 24: Trial set in U.S. attorney murder plot case

May 13, 2010: Couple in pot case murder plot sentenced

April 21, 2010: FBI: Murder plot uncovered in marijuana case

Jury deliberating in Idaho murder plot

A federal jury in Salt Lake City on Wednesday continued to deliberate the fate of a former North Idaho developer accused of plotting to kill several witnesses and a federal prosecutor connected to a drug case filed against him in Idaho.

 Jurors began their second day of deliberations in the murder-for-hire case of 41-year-old Kelly J. Polatis, following a 7-day trial and closing arguments in the case, which wrapped up Tuesday.

Read the full story from the Salt Lake City Tribune here.

Past coverage:

May 24: Trial set in U.S. attorney murder plot case

May 13, 2010: Couple in pot case murder plot sentenced

April 21, 2010: FBI: Murder plot uncovered in marijuana case

Man claims role in Tupac’s murder

NEW YORK (AP) — A hip-hop mogul wanted by federal authorities on drug charges did not orchestrate a plot to ambush rapper Tupac Shakur outside a recording studio in the mid-1990s, his lawyer said Thursday.

The accusations against James Rosemond, owner of Czar Entertainment, were levied online and attributed to convicted killer Dexter Isaac, who is serving a life

 sentence in an unrelated murder-for-hire plot. Isaac says, according to the website AllHipHop.com, that he was paid $2,500 by Rosemond to shoot and rob Shakur.

Shakur (pictured in 1993) was hit five times in the shooting at the Quad Studios in Manhattan in 1994. He survived but was later gunned down in Las Vegas in a slaying that remains unsolved.
 
The mystery surrounding Shakur's death has fueled interest in the smallest of details about his life, as well as the old-school feud between East Coast and West Coast rap that some say contributed to his killing.
 
Isaac stole jewelry off Shakur and handed over a diamond ring to Rosemond after the late-night ambush, the post published Wednesday reads.
 
“I still have the chain that we took that night,” he wrote, according to the post.
 
New York City police were investigating the claims, though it's not clear if anyone would face charges, in part because the incident occurred about 17 years ago. Rosemond is wanted by federal authorities in New York on drug charges and as of Thursday remained a fugitive.
 
Erin Mulvey, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, refused to comment on Isaac and would not give any details on Rosemond.
 
His lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, could not comment about the federal case against his client. But he said the accusations posted online were lies fabricated because Isaac is upset he was outed as a government informant.
 
“This is a guy who is a blood-thirsty killer, trying to work off a life sentence, and for some reason his accusations are taken as fact?” Lichtman asked.
 
The post is rife with bitterness directed at Rosemond.
 
“Now I would like to clear up a few things, because the statute of limitations is over, and no one can be charged, and I'm just plain tired of listening to your lies,” according to the post.
 
Isaac was convicted in the 1997 murder-for-hire shooting death of cab driver Waleed Hammouda. The victim's wife, Micheline, offered Isaac property in exchange for killing her husband. She was also convicted.
 
He is serving life in prison and was transferred earlier this year to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn from a prison in Colorado.
 
An employee at the Brooklyn detention center said inmates were not allowed to receive calls and were allowed only approved in-person visits. In order to be approved, a person must first write to the inmate and receive a visitor form.
 
It wasn't clear whether Isaac still had a lawyer, and a call to the website wasn't returned.

Woman with trail of dead husbands dies

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — An elderly grandmother who left a trail of five dead husbands in five states over decades has died, leaving a longer trail of questions for survivors of her spouses that might never be answered.

  Betty Neumar, 79, died late Sunday or early Monday in a hospital in Louisiana after an illness, her son-in-law Terry Sanders told The Associated Press.

“She was tough country girl and fought through a lot of pain,” said Sanders, who has been married 38 years to Neumar's daughter.

Authorities in North Carolina said they planned to look into her death. She was free on $300,000 bond on three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in the 1986 death of her fourth husband, Harold Gentry. Her trial was postponed numerous times since her arrest in 2008.

“We're going to make sure we examine the death certificate,” said Sheriff Rick Burris of Stanly County, N.C.

Read the rest of the story by Associated Press writer Mitch Weiss by clicking the link below.

  

Trial set in U.S. attorney murder plot

Trial for a man accused of plotting to kill a federal prosecutor and witnesses in a North Idaho marijuana case is set for July. 

Pre-trial motions in the case of Kelly J. Polatis are due by June 1 with jury selection set to begin July 11, a federal judge in Utah ruled last week.

Polatis has been in federal custody in Utah since April 2010, just after a North Idaho federal jury acquitted him of drug charges related to a mairjuana grow operation in Post Falls.

Before his acquittal, prosecutors say Polatis tried to kill his co-defendants by hiring a man who turned out to be an undercover FBI agents. 

A judge recently rejected a request by his lawyers to dismiss the murder-for-hire charges for outrageous government misconduct. The defense alleged the FBI agents led Polatis on when he was drunk, and also alleged prosecutors were vindictive when they filed the case right after Polatis was acquitted on the marijuana charges.

According to court documents, Polatis met with FBI Agent Greg Rogers, who was posing as a hitman, on May 13, 2009, at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, where they gambled, ate lunch and discussed a murder-for-hire proposal. Rogers told Polatis he would need a $15,000 down payment, and Polatis said that was fine.

Two days later, Polatis called Rogers and said he wanted to hire him”to cut off the finger of a man he believed had been cheating with his common-law wife,” accoridng to court documents. “Polatis also indicted that having Agent Rogers commit that act would give Polatis absolutely confidence in Roger in connection with the murder-for-hire.”

Prosecutors say Rogers knew the name of one of Polatis' intended victims before the meeting but not others.

“…Agents were unaware of the identities of those victims until Polatis actually met with Agent Rogers,” according to court documents. “Agents were also completely surprised when Polatis raised the issue with Agents Rogers of killing Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Cook.”

Polatis is represented by Lawrence Leigh of Slat Lake City and Gabriel Grasso of Las Vegas, who was part of former football great O.J. Simpson's defense team in 2008. They say Polatis was set up by the FBI, and that Rogers badgered him into discussing the plot while intoxicated.

Polatis is a former partner with Kirk-Hughes Development, LLC, which fought Kootenai County’s rejection of its proposed Chateau de Loire lakeside development. The firm's lawyer appeared in court with him when he was first arrested.

Past coverage:

May 13, 2010: Couple in pot case murder plot sentenced

April 21, 2010: FBI: Murder plot uncovered in marijuana case

Steele’s lawyers hint at defense plan

Two private defense attorneys representing accused North Idaho lawyer Edgar Steele said in documents filed this week that they intend to “introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect.”

That disease or defect has “bearing on (Steele's) guilt or his lack of a knowing or intentional mental state,” according to the document, filed Monday by Steele's attorneys, Robert T. McAllister, of Denver, and Gary Amendola, of Coeur d'Alene.

The document offers a glimpse at a possible defense strategy for Steele, who is accused of hiring a hitman turned FBI informant to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele, and her mother.

Steele faces decades in prison under federal charges that allege he hired a man who affixed a pipe bomb under his wife's SUV.

Prosecutors say they have tape recordings of Steele talking about the plot with the would-be hitman, Larry Fairfax. In one recording, Steele tells Fairfax “to make sure that they were dead after the accident because Edgar Steele did not want to take care of a paraplegic” according to an affidavit prepared by the FBI.

Wesley Hoyt, a lawyer representing Cyndi Steele, has said the federal government is capable of manufacturing Edgar Steele's voice on those tapes. Cyndi Steele is adamant that her husband is innocent and visits him at the Spokane County Jail on a weekly basis.

Steele had been represented by Roger Peven, executive director of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho, but U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill approved Steele's request for new counsel during a closed hearing Monday in Coeur d'Alene.

Amendola is a longtime Coeur d'Alene defense attorney who's handled many high-profile cases.

McAllister does not have a license to practice law in Idaho but is licensed in Colorado. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago and Denver from 1976 to 1983 and has been in private practice since.

Eye surgeon convicted in murder plot

SEATTLE (AP) — The co-founder of a Northwest chain of eye-surgery centers has been convicted of plotting to kill his business partner.

Dr. Michael Mockovak of Clearly Lasik eye centers was found guilty Thursday of four counts, including attempted murder. The King County Superior Court jury deliberated for less than two days.

Prosecutors said Mockovak was willing to pay more than $100,000 to have business partner Dr. Joseph King killed, and that he solicited an employee to hire an assassin. The jury acquitted Mockovak of trying to have the company's former president also killed.

Mockovak's lawyers claimed the employee goaded him into the plot after Mockovak raised the idea as a joke.

Clearly Lasik has offices throughout the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. The company reported earnings of $17 million in 2007, but that figure dipped to $10 million in 2008.

Mockovak will be sentenced in March.

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