Brooklyn, NY - January 24, 2014 - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a federal jury convicted Joseph Romano, 51, of Levittown, New York, of conspiring to murder the Assistant United States Attorney who prosecuted him for engaging in an eight-year, multi-million-dollar fraud involving the telemarketing of coins. The jury also convicted the defendant of conspiring to murder the United States District Judge who sentenced him to 15 years in prison for that fraud. The defendant faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both, in addition to forfeiture of more than $200,000 when he is sentenced in March.
“A threat against a member of the criminal justice system, such as a Judge or an attorney, is nothing less than an attempt to subvert the system, and as such will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul.
According to the government’s trial evidence, the defendant agreed to pay $40,000 to an undercover police officer, whom he thought was a hitman, to kill the federal judge and prosecutor. The defendant also requested that the hitman cut off their heads in exchange for a “bonus.” Law enforcement authorities learned of the plot in August 2012 from another inmate at the Nassau County Correctional Center where Romano was being held. During the subsequent investigation, two undercover law enforcement officers, posing as hitmen, met with Romano and co-conspirator Dejvid Mirkovic numerous times at locations on Long Island, including the Correctional Center.
At the first meeting, Romano offered to pay one of the undercover officers $3,000 to assault an individual with whom he had a financial dispute. Co-conspirator Mirkovic then met with one of the undercover officers and paid him $1,500 as a down payment for the assault. After one of the undercover officers showed proof of the purported assault of the intended victim—in fact, a staged photograph and an identification card—Mirkovic paid the undercover officer the $1,500 balance.
Later that same day, Mirkovic again met with the undercover officer, relayed Romano’s instructions to murder the federal judge and prosecutor, and offered $40,000 for the commission of the two murders. In addition, Mirkovic indicated that Romano wanted the federal judge and prosecutor beheaded and the body of the prosecutor mutilated and that he was willing to pay extra for those services. Over the following weeks, the undercover officer received $22,000 in cash down payments for the murders and was promised payment of the final $18,000 when the murders were completed. At the time of the arrests of Romano and Mirkovic on October 9, 2012, law enforcement officers recovered $18,000 in cash and a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun at Mirkovic’s residence in Lake Worth, Florida.
In March 2013, Dejvid Mirkovic pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and was sentenced to 24 years in prison in August 2013.
Today’s conviction was the latest development in an investigation handled by special agents and Task Force officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Office, under the direction of Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Marshall L. Miller, Una A. Dean, and Brian Morris of the Eastern District of New York, under the supervision of U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul of the Western District of New York.