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Press Release

Two Baltimore County Men Facing Federal Indictment for Murder-For-Hire, Extortion, and Related Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Allegedly Planned to Murder Victims Over a Debt

Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Clement Robert Mercaldo, Jr., age 61, of Timonium, Maryland and Stepfen Gerard Gaither, age 29, of Randallstown, Maryland, for a murder-for-hire conspiracy, use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, collection of credit by extortion, and for interstate communications with intent to extort.  Gaither is also charged for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department.

According to the 16-count indictment and other court documents, Mercaldo loaned money to a Baltimore County restaurant owner.  The indictment alleges that from March 2019 through February 2020, Mercaldo and Gaither conspired to commit a murder in exchange for cash.  Further, the defendants allegedly sent numerous text messages threatening harm to the restaurant owner, his business partner, and their families, related to non-payments of this loan.  Mercaldo and Gaither allegedly discussed and planned the murder of one or both of the victims.

Finally, the indictment alleges that on June 23, 2020, Gaither possessed with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of a mixture of fentanyl and heroin.

If convicted, Mercaldo and Gaither face a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for the murder-for-hire conspiracy and for use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire; a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for both collection of credit by extortionate means and for interstate communications with intent to extort.  Gaither also faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  The defendants will have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore at a later date.  Mercaldo and Gaither are currently detained on related federal charges.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Budlow, who is prosecuting the case.

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated September 1, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime