Officials: 2 in murder plot had prior scams
A man charged this week with conspiring to kill a federal judge and a prosecutor was a front man in a Florida coin scam for Joseph Romano, who is accused of hatching the murder plot from the Nassau County jail, according to testimony by a federal postal inspector.
After federal investigators said they discovered that the scheme was being run by Romano through his associate, Dejvid Mirkovic, a car salesman from Lake Worth, Fla., U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bianco revoked Romano's bail and returned him to jail in May 2010.
Romano was arrested in November 2008 and charged with running a $40 million telemarketing scam on Long Island that preyed on the elderly and involved collectible coins; he was released on bail on the condition that he no longer engage in telemarketing operations. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire mail fraud in September 2010.
Mirkovic, 38, and Romano, 49, of Levittown, were arrested Tuesday and accused of hiring two undercover police officers posing as hit men for $40,000 to kill Bianco and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz.
Romano wanted to have the two federal officials killed as revenge for being prosecuted and sentenced to 15 years in prison in February for running the Long Island coin scam, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham.
Both operations involved selling collectible coins at inflated prices to mostly elderly people, federal officials said.
Romano hatched the plot to kill Bianco and Treinis Gatz in August while in the Nassau jail awaiting a hearing, court papers said. Mirkovic assisted Romano in the plot by meeting with and paying purported hit men, court papers said.
The two men had become friends in Florida after Romano had bought a property next to a house that Mirkovic owned, according to testimony at Romano's bail hearing by then U.S. Postal Inspector William Hessle.
Hessle said that Romano set up the Florida coin operation using Mirkovic as a front man. The postal inspector said that despite Mirkovic supposedly running the operation, the business in 2009 paid out $55,000 in cash to Romano and another $200,000 in expenses.
Romano's lawyer at the time argued that Mirkovic was helping out. "He was a guy in need and he was making his payments for him," Charles Carnesi said. Mirkovic's attorney, Jack Goldberger, said this week that his client was "coerced and tricked" into the murder plot.
Durham has said in court Romano has confessed to the plot. Romano's lawyer, Joseph Kilada, has declined to comment.