Joseph Romano, 49, of Long Island is being charged with trying to arrange a hit on a prosecutor and the New York judge who presided over the case that led to his conviction in a $40 million fake collectible coin scheme, several news outlets are reporting.
According to The New York Times, police were tipped off to the plot by an informant at Nassau County Jail, who told the authorities that Romano said he wanted his targets tortured and killed. Romano was allegedly willing to pay two hit men -- who were really undercover officers -- $40,000 to cut the pair's heads and store them in formaldehyde as souvenirs.
Both the Times and the Wall Street Journal are also reporting that Romano allegedly asked the undercover officers to prove themselves as legitimate by assaulting someone who owed him money. The officers staged an attack and provided fake photographic evidence to Romano to convince him the attack had been carried out.
Romano allegedly had an associate working with him on the plot: Dejvid Mirkovic, who was arrested in Florida, was also charged in the case, the Long Island Press reports. But Mirkovic's lawyer, Jack Goldberger, seemed to indicate his client was an unwitting participant.
“Mr. Mirkovic has agreed to return to New York to answer the changes. We think that when all is said and done, it will be clear that we was tricked into participating,” Goldberger told the Wall Street Journal.
Though the judge's name is not being released by prosecutors, Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bianco is listed as the judge who presided over Romano's fraud case.
According to the New York Post, after Romano pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud charges tied to his coin scheme, his family and friends wrote letters asking for leniency in his sentencing, claiming he was a changed man.
Romano's murder-for-hire plot comes on the heels of another high-profile hit that was thwarted by authorities.
Just last month, Ryan Walker, a disgruntled business owner from Arlington, Texas, pleaded guilty to trying to have both an attorney and the city's mayor killed.