Joe Romano wanted the hitmen to kill a judge and prosecutor and then preserve their severed heads in formaldehyde.
The FBI says the 49-year-old New Yorker wanted to save the heads as souvenirs so he could revel in the deaths of the people who put him behind bars two years ago for swindling people out of $40 million in a collectible coins scheme.
But stuck in a New York prison, Romano, who owns a home in Boynton Beach, needed help to pay the killer. So, he recruited his friend in Palm Beach County to handle the $40,000 transaction.
Dejvid Mirkovic, of Lake Worth, was the middleman. But the "killers" were really FBI agents – and Mirkovic ended up in jail, too.
The FBI warrant for the arrest of Romano and Mirkovic details an elaborate plot the government says was aimed at revenge. The FBI says Romano wanted bloody retribution for the 15-year prison sentence already handed to him by a federal court. Romano had pleaded guilty to defrauding elderly customers by selling them fake collectible coins, a scheme prosecutors said cost victims more than $40 million.
Mirkovic was also in the coin business, and he owns a store in Delray Beach.
According to the warrant, the saga started on Aug. 7, when a confidential informant at the Nassau County Correctional Center learned Romano wanted to "torture" and "kill" the judge and prosecutor in the case.
Although the FBI report did not name the judge or attorney in Romano's sights, court records show Joseph F. Bianco, a federal judge in Central Islip, N.Y., presided over Romano's case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz led the prosecution.
On Aug. 10, Romano asked the informant to find him a hitman. The informant passed the request to the FBI, and two undercover agents assumed the roles of contract killers. One agent met with Romano at the prison, and recorded the conversation.
Romano decided to test his new employees – he asked them to beat up a guy with whom he had a financial dispute. Court documents only name the man as "John Doe."
Romano offered $3,000 and promised another job.
"A big job," Romano told one of the agents. "Some serious work."
On Sept. 25, it appeared the undercover officer delivered. Mirkovic hopped on a plane in Florida and flew to New York, where the officer showed Mirkovic fake photos that appeared to show "John Doe" had been assaulted.
Mirkovic paid the man and met with Romano at the jail to get more instructions.
Romano wanted the judge and prosecutor dead, the FBI report says.
He had $40,000 cash for the man who beheaded the duo and stored their heads in jars filled with formaldehyde.
He said he'd put down $20,000 to get the job started.
"Mirkovic provided specific requests from Romano regarding the manner in which the murders should take place," a FBI report says. "Romano requested that the heads of both the Judge and the AUSA be preserved in formaldehyde as souvenirs."
Later that day, Mirkovic met with an informant and paid him $2,000 as a down payment for the assassinations. He agreed to pay the balance when he returned to New York on Oct. 2.
But when Mirkovic got up to leave, the informant stopped him. He asked Mirkovic if he could accompany him to a bank to pick up the rest of the money. Mirkovic agreed, stopped at a bank and forked over another $9,900.
He pulled the money out an account named to Universal Coin Collections, Inc., Mirkovic's business headquarters in Delray Beach.
Before he left, Mirkovic gave the informant a heads up:
"Romano was willing to pay extra for the 'souvenirs,'" the report says, regarding the severed heads, "if the informant was willing to store them until Romano's release from prison."
On Oct. 2, Mirkovic hopped another plane to New York. He met with the informant and delivered an additional $10,000 for the assassinations.
He promised to pay the remaining $18,000 when the deed was done.
But he never got a chance. On Oct. 9, authorities got a warrant and moved in.
They arrested Mirkovic at his Lake Worth home, where agents recovered $18,000 in cash and a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun.
Earlier that morning, authorities searched Romano's house in Levittown, N.Y., and found $9,000 cash.
Romano appeared in federal court in New York on Tuesday afternoon. Mirkovic appeared in federal court in West Palm Beach the same day and was later taken to New York.
If convicted, both Mirkovic and Romano could spend their lives in prison.
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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