A complaint unsealed on Tuesday in Brooklyn revealed the grisly plans of a fraudster to cap his crime career by hiring a hit man to murder a federal judge and a prosecutor, and then to save their heads as ‘souvenirs’ immersed in formaldehyde. Joseph Romano, a convicted fraudster was trapped by two undercover officials, one posing as a hitman, with Romano offering up to $40,000 for the heads of the federal judge and prosecution attorney he holds responsible for his conviction in 2009.
According to court records, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco was the lead judge in Romano’s case while the lead prosecutors were assistant U.S. attorney’s Diane Leonardo-Beckmann, Lara Gatz and Thomas Sullivan. However, the authorities did not confirm the names of Romano’s specific targets to the media.
A business associate of Romano has also been charged in the alleged plot, and both men face life sentences if convicted.
Romano was caught and charged in 2009 for running a boiler-room operation of selling valuable coins. Four other persons were charged with him. After pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison in February. While he was kept at the Nassau County Correctional Center, he sent out feelers to hire a hit man to take out the judge and prosecutor who secured his conviction.
A confidential informant reported the fact to federal authorities, who sent an undercover officer to meet Romano. Romano first asked the undercover agent to assault an unidentified man to prove himself.
After the undercover agent returned with staged evidence of the assault, Romano told Mirkovic to give the green light to murder the judge and the prosecutor. Mirkovic offered the officer a $20,000 down payment and conveyed Romano’s request to have the heads of the victims preserved in formaldehyde as “souvenirs.”
The prosecutors submitted that on Oct 2, Mirkovic went to Florida to meet the undercover agent and finalize arrangements. He was arrested on Tueseday.
Mirkovic’s lawyer says, “When the dust settles, it will be clear that Mr. Mirkovic was tricked into participating in this, and he’s not guilty of the crime.” In a statement, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said, “Romano thought he was buying revenge … Instead, he bought the full force of the law, along with a possible life sentence.”