Tacoma – A Snohomish, Washington, man who was rearrested following his sentencing in a drug trafficking scheme, has now pleaded guilty to new charges, including attempting to hire a hitman to kill a witness in his case, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Michael John Scott, 44, was sentenced in January 2020 to 78 months in prison for dealing fentanyl-laced pills and cocaine. One week later, before he was to report to serve his sentence, he was arrested on his way to a drug deal in Whatcom County. While at the federal detention center awaiting trial on these new drug charges, Scott tried to hire a hitman to kill a witness against him. Today, Scott pleaded guilty to four federal felonies.
Scott admitted two additional crimes connected to drug distribution. According to the facts in the agreement, even as Scott was awaiting sentencing for the earlier drug distribution crimes, he was continuing to set up drug deals. On January 30, 2020, he was arrested as he arrived to sell fentanyl pills to a person in Whatcom County. That person was working with law enforcement. A search of Scott’s home revealed a stolen, loaded firearm, a Colt Delta Elite 10mm semi-automatic pistol. Scott admits in his plea agreement that he had the gun in furtherance of his drug distribution conspiracy.
Following the January 30, 2020, arrest, while in custody at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington, Scott agreed to pay an associate $2,000 if he would assist Scott in finding a hitman to kill a witness against him and an associate of that witness. Scott said he would pay $10,000 each for the murders. Scott told his associate that he wanted the deaths to appear to be fentanyl overdoses. In June and July 2021, Scott wrote letters disguised as ‘legal mail’ to the person he thought was the hitman and to a friend he wanted to handle payment for the crimes.
The FBI was aware of the scheme and had an agent pose as the hitman. The friend of Scott’s met with the “hitman” and provided him with a down payment.
Today, Scott pleaded guilty to: Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances --punishable by up to 20 years in prison; Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime – punishable by a mandatory consecutive five year prison term on top of any sentence imposed for the other counts of conviction; Use of Interstate Commerce Facilities in the Commission of Murder for Hire –punishable by up to ten years in prison; and Tampering with a Witness, Victim, or Informant – punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend no more than 20 years in prison and the defense can recommend no less than ten years in prison. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan is not bound by the recommendations and can impose any sentence allowed by law when Scott is sentenced on July 27, 2023.
Scott pleaded guilty in June 2019 for his role in U.S. v Hernandez et al, a 32-defendant drug trafficking case that was unsealed in December 2018. Scott was a high-volume redistributor of fentanyl-laced imitation oxycodone pills and cocaine, who delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to his cartel suppliers for the drugs–sometimes as much as $150,000 at a time. When Scott’s home was searched in December 2018, law enforcement recovered illegal drugs, more than $40,000 in cash, and other tools of the drug trade.
In the current case, Scott is forfeiting more than $25,000 seized in the case as well as the firearm seized at his residence.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kristine Foerster and Max Shiner.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.