Tallahassee Man Convicted in Murder-for-Hire Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 21, 2009|
TALLAHASSEE, FL—Thomas F. Kirwin, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida announced today the conviction of Ronald Scott Preacher (35) for use of a facility of interstate commerce with the intent that a murder be committed, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1958. The conviction came at the conclusion of a jury trial held on October 19 and 20, 2009.
Evidence introduced at trial established that in July of this year, Preacher repeatedly offered a co-worker money to kill a man who Preacher believed had stolen his girlfriend. When his co-worker refused, Preacher asked the co-worker to find someone else who would be willing to kill the man. On July 13, Preacher used his cell phone to send his co-worker links to photographs of the intended victim. Preacher’s efforts to find a hit man became so frequent and insistent, that his co-worker feared that if he did not alert law enforcement, Preacher might find someone to commit the crime. On July 27, the co-worker told agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about Preacher’s plans. Over the course of the next two days, agents recorded conversations Preacher had with his co-worker, and with an FDLE agent posing as a “hit man.” In these conversations, Preacher agreed to pay the hit man $2500 to make the victim “disappear” and requested a Polaroid photograph as proof of the crime. During these conversations, Preacher also admitted that he had loosened the drain plug on the radiator of his ex-girlfriend’s car, so that the vehicle would over-heat and she would have to turn to Preacher, who was an auto mechanic, for help. On July 29, Preacher withdrew $1100 from his bank account to pay the hit man, and gave the money, along with photographs of the intended victim, to his co-worker to hand over to the hit man. The co-worker refused, and when the hit man arrived, Preacher called off the hit, saying he feared he was being set up.
Preacher faces a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment. Sentencing is scheduled for January 10, 2010, before United States District Judge Stephan P. Mickle.
Mr. Kirwin commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, whose swift intervention disrupted the defendant’s plan and led to his conviction. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen Rhew-Miller.