Convicted Boiler Room Owner and Business Associate Charged with Plotting to Kill Federal Judge and Federal Prosecutor
Defendants Paid $22,000 to Undercover Police Officer as Down Payment for Murders
Joseph Romano, a convicted boiler room owner, and Dejvid Mirkovic, Romano’s business associate, have been charged in a federal criminal complaint with conspiring to murder a United States District Judge and an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.1 Romano, who is currently serving a 15-year-sentence following his conviction for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and Mirkovic allegedly attempted to hire a hitman to kill the judge, who presided over Romano’s underlying case (“the judge”), and the prosecutor who handled the case (“the AUSA”), in exchange for $40,000.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Mary Galligan, Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
Romano, who is already in custody, is scheduled to have his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. Mirkovic was arrested in Lake Worth, Florida earlier today, and his initial appearance is scheduled this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon at the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach, Florida. When the law enforcement officers arrested Mirkovic, they recovered $18,000 in cash and a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun. Additionally, earlier this morning, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Romano’s house in Levittown, New York, where they recovered an additional $9,000 in cash.
According to the complaint, law enforcement authorities learned of the plot in August 2012, when a confidential informant reported that Romano stated he wanted to torture and kill the judge and AUSA and asked the informant for assistance in arranging for a hitman to carry out the murders. During the subsequent investigation, two undercover law enforcement officers, posing as hitmen, met with Romano and Mirkovic numerous times at locations on Long Island, including at the Nassau County Correctional Center (“NCCC”), where Romano was being held, and the meetings were recorded. At one of the first meetings, Romano asked one of the undercover officers to assault someone as a test before agreeing to hire him to carry out the murders. Romano provided the undercover officer with the name of an individual to assault (a person with whom Romano had a financial dispute) who is identified in the complaint as “John Doe,” and offered to pay the undercover $3,000. Romano directed Mirkovic to meet with one of the undercover officers and pay him $1,500 as a down payment for the assault, which he did. After an undercover officer showed proof of the purported assault of John Doe – actually, staged photographs and an identification card of John Doe – Mirkovic paid the undercover officer the $1,500 balance.
Subsequently, Mirkovic allegedly met with the undercover officer, relayed Romano’s instructions to murder the judge and AUSA, and offered him $40,000 for the job. That same day, Mirkovic gave the undercover officer a $12,000 down payment and paid an additional $10,000 the following week. Mirkovic promised payment of the final $18,000 upon confirmation of the murders. As set forth above, when Mirkovic was arrested this morning, the law enforcement officers recovered $18,000 in cash, which was wrapped in two bundles.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
“Romano thought he was buying revenge. Instead, he bought the full force of the law, along with a possible life sentence. By allegedly targeting for death dedicated public servants, the defendants attempted to strike a blow to the heart of our criminal justice system. Today’s arrests send an unequivocal message that any plot to harm or intimidate our judges and prosecutors will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the FBI, United States Marshals Service, Nassau County Police Department, Suffolk County Police Department, United States Postal Inspection Service, Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, and United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida for their invaluable cooperation and assistance in the investigation.
FBI Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge Galligan stated, “From prison, Romano allegedly plotted to murder the judge and prosecutor he felt were responsible for putting him there. In fact, what put him in prison was his prior criminal conduct. Now he faces the prospect of never getting out of prison. Our system of laws is impartial, but it is not weak, and it will not tolerate an assault on its very foundation. The charges against Romano and Mirkovic show that.”
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael P. Canty, Diane C. Leonardo, and John J. Durham.
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