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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 12, 2020

Grand jury indicts another individual for conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and murder-for-hire scheme

ST. LOUIS, MO – A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against James Timothy Norman, Terica Taneisha Ellis, Waiel Rebhi Yaghnam and Travell Anthony Hill. Norman, Ellis and Hill are charged with conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and murder-for hire resulting in the death of Andre Montgomery.  Norman and Yaghnam are charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and Yaghnam is charged with five counts of aggravated identity theft all in connection with Montgomery’s murder-for-hire.

According to the indictment and other court documents, James Timothy Norman conspired with Terica Ellis, Travell Anthony Hill and others to use a facility of interstate commerce, namely, a cellular telephone, to commit a murder-for-hire in exchange for United States currency, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1958. In 2014, Norman obtained a total of $450,000 in life insurance proceeds on his 20-year-old nephew, Andre Montgomery, on which Norman was the sole beneficiary.

In the days leading up to Montgomery’s murder, Ellis, an exotic dancer residing in Memphis, Tennessee, communicated with Montgomery and informed him she was planning to be in St. Louis. On March 13, 2016, the day before Montgomery’s murder, Norman flew to St. Louis, Missouri from his home in Los Angeles, California. On March 14, 2016, Ellis and Norman communicated using temporary phones activated that day. Ellis also used the temporary phone to communicate with Montgomery and learn his physical location for the purpose of luring Montgomery outside. Immediately after learning Montgomery’s location, Ellis relayed the address to Norman and Hill. On March 14, 2016, at approximately 8:02 p.m., Montgomery was killed by gunfire at 3964 Natural Bridge Avenue in the City of St. Louis. Ellis’s phone location information places her in the vicinity of the murder at time of the homicide. Immediately following Montgomery’s murder, Ellis placed a call to Norman and then began travelling to Memphis, Tennessee. In the days after the murder, Ellis deposited over $9,000 in cash into various bank accounts. On March 16, 2016, Hill received a cash payment of $5,000 at the direction of Norman. That same day Hill engaged in recorded phone conversation with an individual in jail and discussed Montgomery’s murder and his payment. On March 18, 2016, Norman contacted the life insurance company in an attempt to collect on the life insurance policy he had obtained on his nephew.

The indictment alleges prior to Montgomery’s murder, Norman conspired with Yaghnam, his insurance agent, to fraudulently obtain a life insurance policy on Montgomery. Beginning in October of 2014, Norman and Yaghnam submitted five separate life insurance applications, all containing numerous false statements regarding Montgomery’s income, net worth, medical history, employment and family background. In the life insurance policy that ultimately issued, Norman obtained a $200,000 policy, as well as a $200,000 accidental death rider that would pay out in the event that Montgomery died of something other than natural causes, and a $50,000 10 year-term rider that would pay out if Montgomery died within 10 years of the policy’s issuance in 2014.

“This murder-for-hire cold case from 2016 demonstrates once again the power of law enforcement partnership and persistence,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division. “By combining resources and expertise, the FBI and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department overcame numerous challenges to uncover the details of this plot.”

The arrests of Norman, Ellis and Hill are part of Operation LeGend which is a federal partnership with local law enforcement to address the increase in homicides and violent crime in St. Louis in 2020. The operation honors the memory of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, one of the youngest fatalities during a record-breaking year of homicides and shootings. Additional federal agents were assigned to the operation from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Homicide Section and Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating these current charges.

If convicted of the conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire or murder-for-hire resulting in death, the penalty is life imprisonment or death and a fine of $250,000. Conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Aggravated identity theft carries a minimum sentence of imprisonment of two years. In determining the actual sentence, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

As is always the case, the charge in an indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Contact: 
Venton Blandin venton.blandin@usdoj.gov 314-539-6805
Updated November 12, 2020