Crime: The true price of a failed contract killing: Eight years in federal prison - PressFrom - US

CrimeThe true price of a failed contract killing: Eight years in federal prison

19:30  14 march  2019
19:30  14 march  2019 Source:

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The true price of a failed contract killing: Eight years in federal prison© Provided by PG Publishing Co., Inc.

Brad Lanese, a pot grower in his 50s from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told a judge Wednesday that he's glad his case turned out the way it did.

Meaning no one got killed.

Because if he'd had his way, his cousin's ex-wife would have died at the bottom of that cliff on the California coast back in 2017.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon sent him to federal prison for 96 months.

Lanese, 53, had pleaded guilty last year to attempted murder-for-hire in trying to pay a hitman $30,000 to kill his cousin's ex-wife, whom he blamed for cutting him out of their California marijuana farm operation.

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He wanted the hitman to inject the woman with drugs and shove her pickup off a cliff with her inside. It would look like an overdose accident, he said. Happens all the time out here, he said.

But as it so often happens in such cases, the hitman nicknamed "Deeds" was an undercover agent, and every detail of Lanese's plan was secretly recorded. His own words did him in and he had no defense.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Lanni said the motive was vengeance and love of money.

"In this case, greed and a misguided need for revenge caused Brad Lanese to travel to the ends of the country and stand on the edge of the Pacific Palisades and instead of ruminating on the natural beauty of the area, hypothesize on how he could turn this scenic place into an ideal crime scene, the final chapter in his murder for hire plot," he said in sentencing papers.

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Lanese had run a big pot operation in northern California with his cousin, identified only as "C.B.," and his cousin's wife, "L.D."

But he and L.D. didn't get along and he was asked to leave. His cousin gave him $29,000 to quit. He accepted it but, back in Pittsburgh, spent it all along with rest of his profits from all the pot.

Upset at his lack of cash and the fact that his former partners had plenty of it, he blamed L.D. for manipulating her husband into forcing him out and came up with a plot. He would rob the farm, even though his own son worked there.

He reached out to an individual in Pittsburgh to help him. What he didn't know is that the contact was a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant who started recording their conversations.

The informant said they needed help and suggested "Deeds" was the man for the job. Deeds, he said, would provide "logistical support," weapons, whatever was needed.

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Lanese was on board with that plan. He had no idea Deeds was Eric Harpster, a Pittsburgh cop who works as a DEA task force officer.

In October 2017, Lanese and the informant flew to San Francisco. But his plan changed. Instead of robbing L.D., he now wanted her dead. His idea was to give her a fatal overdose of fentanyl and heroin, then put her in her pickup and push it off Highway One on the coast.

He said lots of motorists drive off that famous highway and die so the police would just chalk it up to another accident.

"They don't even investigate half of these [expletive] things, dude," he told the informant.

With L.D. dead, he could rejoin his cousin in the grow operation.

The two of them later met Deeds at a restaurant. Lanese said he wanted Deeds to kill L.D. The idea was for him to wait in the marijuana fields where L.D. went every night to get high. He would pretend his car had broken down, and when she stopped to help, he would inject her with fentanyl-laced heroin and push her pickup into the Pacific.

Deeds was down with the plot, saying that while he wouldn't kill children, women were fair game. He showed Lanese an AK-47 and other guns supplied by ATF to make him look like a real hitman.

Lanese flew back to Pittsburgh. The three later held a conference call in which Lanese agreed to pay $30,000 for the hit.

"This isn't a joke," he said. "I know what I'm signing up for."

In court for sentencing, he apologized and thanked the government for "exposing something that could have been tragic."

Lanese's wife, Janine Lanese, a former 911 operator for Allegheny County, also is charged in the case with lying to agents when they were trying to find her husband. She said he wasn't home when in fact he was hiding in a crawl space upstairs.

Her case is pending.

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