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Man charged in judge murder plot to pursue entrapment defense, attorney says

Joseph Romano, left, and David Mirkovic in a

Joseph Romano, left, and David Mirkovic in a government surveillance photo outside Romano's purported coin boiler room in Delray Beach, Fla. Credit: U.S. Department of Justice

Defense lawyers signaled that they plan an entrapment defense as jury selection began Monday in the trial of a Levittown man charged with plotting to murder a Central Islip federal judge and a prosecutor in 2012.

Joseph Romano, 50, is accused of planning the execution of U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco and prosecutor Lara Treinis-Gatz in revenge for his conviction and 15-year sentence in a $40 million collectible coin scam.

U.S. District Judge John Keenan, presiding over the trial in federal court in Brooklyn, is seeking to impanel an anonymous jury. He told jurors who survived the first round of questioning Monday to return Thursday.

Romano and co-defendant David Mirkovic, who has pleaded guilty, are accused of offering $40,000 to two undercover agents who they believed were hit men, and Romano allegedly discussed preserving the heads of the victims in formaldehyde.

Federal authorities first learned of the plot from a fellow prison inmate who spoke to Romano. They intend to introduce tapes the inmate made with Romano, but do not intend to call the inmate as a witness.

Defense lawyers for Romano, however, said in a letter to Keenan that their defense at trial will be that the inmate "induced" Romano into the murder conspiracy, and they may want to call him as a witness to establish their entrapment defense.

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