Ronald Thornton said he wanted to hire a babysitter and he would pay the sitter with "bricks," a Suffolk detective testified Tuesday.
What Thornton meant, Det. Thomas Hess testified at Thornton's murder trial in Riverhead, was he wanted someone to kidnap the daughter of an exotic dancer who had agreed to testify against him. And the kidnapper would be paid with cocaine, Hess said.
"He said he had bricks for a chimney for me," Hess said.
Thornton, 39, a Nesconset mortgage broker, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly hiring three people, including the dancer, to kill his friend and business partner, James DiMartino, 44, of Nesconset.
DiMartino was shot once in the head in a Commack parking lot on Oct. 20, 2008.
Thornton also is charged with first-degree conspiracy for trying to hire someone to abduct the teenage daughter of Monique Randall, 30, of St. Albans, Queens.
Thornton has pleaded not guilty to both charges. His attorneys say prosecutors lack evidence tying Thornton to DiMartino's death and the kidnap plot.
Randall has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for her role in DiMartino's death. Two men await trial on first-degree murder charges.
Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford in Suffolk County Court, Hess said an inmate in the Suffolk County jail reported in January 2009 that Thornton had asked him about finding someone to arrange a kidnapping. At the time, Thornton was incarcerated there after he was charged in DiMartino's slaying.
Posing as a man named Scott, Hess recorded seven phone conversations in which he and Thornton discussed the kidnapping.
"How you doing, buddy," Thornton is heard saying in one recording, played Tuesday in court. "I need something taken care of."
"You want us to watch your niece and nephew for a while?" Hess replies.
After Thornton confirms the plan, the pair discuss compensation. Speaking in code, Thornton is heard saying on the recording, "I got car keys for you, you know, bricks for a fireplace . . . You could build a whole chimney."
In the recordings, Thornton is heard directing Hess to a St. James storage unit to find bricks of cocaine. When Hess says in a later conversation that he can't find the storage unit, Thornton is heard offering Hess one of two houses he claims to own.
Thornton was anxious that the girl be kidnapped before Randall appeared in court, Hess testified.
"When that gets done, I could walk right out of here," Thornton is heard saying on a jail telephone. "When it happens, everybody will have a nice Christmas."