CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two suspects – one of them already doing hard time – stand charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill the federal judge and prosecutor who sent one of them to prison for bank fraud.
Joseph Romano, who owned the coin boiler room operations Last Quarter Coin, Inc., American Coin Company, Inc., and All American Coin Company Inc., was sentenced to 15 years in prison back in February for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.
Along with business associate Dejvid Mirkovic, Romano is now charged with conspiring to murder a U.S. District judge and an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. They allegedly tried to pay $40,000 to someone they thought was a hit man to kill the judge and prosecutor.
Prosecutors say they learned of the plot back in August, when an informant told them Romano – who was already in prison – had mentioned wanting to torture and kill the judge and prosecutor and had asked for assistance in hiring a hit man to do so.
Afterward, two undercover agents – both posing as hit men – met with Romano and Mirkovic several times on Long Island, prosecutors said. They even came to the Nassau County Correctional Center, where Romano was being held.
The meetings were recorded, and at one of them, Romano offered the undercover officer $3,000 to assault someone identified only as “John Doe,” with whom he had a financial dispute, prosecutors said. Romano then asked Mirkovic to meet with one of the undercover officers and pay him $1,500 as a down payment for the assault, prosecutors said.
The officer then returned and showed proof of the purported attack on John Doe – really staged photographs and an ID card – and Mirkovic paid the remaining $1,500, prosecutors said.
Later, Mirkovic met with the undercover officer again and relayed Romano’s instructions to kill the judge and prosecutor, for $40,000, prosecutors said. Mirkovic allegedly gave the officer a $12,000 down payment on the spot and another $10,000 the next week, and said the remaining $18,000 would come upon confirmation of the murders.
Mirkovic was arrested Tuesday morning in Lake Worth, Fla. When he was arrested, agents allegedly found the $18,000 wrapped in two bundles in cash. They also found a loaded 9mm handgun.
Agents also executed a search warrant at Romano’s house in Levittown on Long Island, where they allegedly recovered another $9,000 in cash.
The earlier crime for which Romano was doing time involved a coin boiler room operation in which he stole more than $40 million in investor money.
Over an eight-year period, he lured elderly victims from all 50 states into buying purportedly collectible coins by claiming falsely that the coins were of a higher quality than what he was actually sending, that the coins were more valuable when owned in a complete set, and that others purchasers were anxious to buy the coins when in fact, nobody was.
At Romano’s sentencing hearing, some of the victims said they lost their family’s life savings as a result of Romano’s scam.
Romano was set to have his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Brown at the federal courthouse in Central Islip. Mirkovic was to appear Tuesday afternoon in federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla.
If convicted, Romano and Mirkovic could both be sentenced to life in prison.