Defendant Tried to Hire Undercover Officer to Assassinate Rival Butcher
ATLANTA—JAVIER ACOSTA-CAUDILLO, 37, of Woodstock, Georgia, pled guilty today to lying to a federal agent concerning his role in a murder-for-hire scheme.
“Every day, federal agents conduct investigations of serious criminal conduct that threatens the safety of our community. Agents depend upon the honesty of the people they interview to make sure that they can act quickly and appropriately in preventing criminal behavior—especially in cases like this one, where the defendant was planning a murder-for-hire scheme. Cases like this demonstrate why it is a criminal offense to intentionally lie to agents conducting their investigations,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison said, “We are pleased with the outcome of this investigation and with the subsequent guilty plea by this defendant today in federal court. We appreciate the assistance from the FBI and federal prosecutors in this matter.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other publicly available information: In April of this year, the FBI and Cherokee County authorities learned that an individual who turned out to be ACOSTA was searching for someone to help him with a murder-for-hire scheme. ACOSTA had been tasked by a local butcher to “eliminate” a competitor by having the competitor killed. ACOSTA discussed his need to find a “hit man” with a friend who subsequently reported the plan to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. This cooperating individual was directed to record any additional conversations he had with ACOSTA on this topic.
After several other conversations between ACOSTA and the cooperating official, the sheriff’s office and the FBI directed the cooperating individual to inform ACOSTA that he had found a potential hit man. This would-be killer was in fact an undercover officer. ACOSTA spoke with this officer several times, to include one face-to-face meeting in early June. At this in-person meeting, ACOSTA explained that the unnamed target was trying to steal some of his employer’s butcher business and needed to be shot and killed. The two agreed on a contract price of $5,000, with $3,000 to be paid up front.
After the in-person meeting, ACOSTA became harder to reach and eventually stopped returning the undercover officer’s calls. The FBI confronted ACOSTA, who denied any knowledge of a murder-for-hire scheme, denied having met the undercover officer, and denied having agreed to pay the officer $5,000.
After he was arrested on state false statement charges, ACOSTA, through counsel, asked to meet with the FBI again to discuss his case. At this meeting, ACOSTA admitted that he had lied to the FBI agents the first time around, and that he did in fact seek to hire the undercover officer to kill the alleged meat market rival. ACOSTA remained adamant that he never learned the name of the intended victim, as the scheme collapsed before his employer had informed him of the target’s identity. Today in court, ACOSTA admitted lying to the agent, and told the court he had been working at a food outlet in Woodstock at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.
ACOSTA was arrested on the present federal false statement charges on June 21, 2011. His sentencing is scheduled for December 14, 2011, at 11 a.m. He faces up to five years in prison for his false statements to the agents and officers. He is also subject to deportation. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding, but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its Safe Streets Task Force, and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant United States Attorney Robert McBurney is prosecuting the case.
For further information, please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney’s Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.