CLICK HERE TO REPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRUPTION (Provide as much information as possible: full names, descriptions, dates, times, activity, witnesses, etc.)

Telephone: 347-632-9775

Monday, April 7, 2008

Former N.J. Official Charged In Plot To Murder Wife

WNBC.COM by Jonathan Dienst - April 3&4, 2008

NEWARK, N.J. -- A former New Jersey public official serving time for municipal corruption was charged Thursday with trying to hire a hitman to kill his wife, authorities said.

Richard Kaplan, 58, a former city construction inspector and zoning officer for New Brunswick, was accused of trying to orchestrate an elaborate murder-for-hire plot while behind bars. Kaplan allegedly wanted a hitman to kill his wife in a staged car accident where the vehicle would be destroyed, authorities said.

"That's the end of that. ... So I'm killing two birds with one stone," Kaplan allegedly said, according to the FBI. Among the evidence against Kaplan, said the FBI, are an informant, handwritten letters and tapes showing his attempts to hire a killer.

"If we had not been tipped to this and had not pursued it aggressively, this is someone who was doing everything he could to try to find someone on the outside to kill his wife," said U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.

While serving a 30-month prison sentence for accepting more than $30,000 in bribes, Kaplan allegedly asked a fellow inmate at the federal prison in Cumberland County to find someone to kill his wife, who was trying to divorce him, Christie said. The alleged hit man turned out to be an undercover federal agent, officials said.

They said Kaplan instructed his accountant in a letter to withdraw $2,000 -- an alleged down payment for the hitman, authorities said. He reputedly told his accountant, "I hire a private investigator to check up on my wife in case I need something on her for my divorce."

Longtime neighbors, who were already surprised by his corruption, are now stunned to hear of his latest alleged crime. "I'm shaky. I can't believe Richard would do this," said neighbor Martha McCormick.

Kaplan did not enter a plea when he appeared in Newark Federal Court and U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk ordered him held without bail. If convicted in this murder-for-hire scheme, Kaplan could face up to a decade more in prison, authorities said. His wife was not seen in the courtroom and could not be reached for comment.

No comments: