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Morristown man agrees to plead guilty in murder-for-hire plot

September 14th, 2015 7:30 am by Matthew Lane

Morristown man agrees to plead guilty in murder-for-hire plot

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GREENEVILLE — A Morristown man who wanted to pay someone to kill a female member of his family has agreed to plead guilty in federal court to the murder-for-hire scheme.

Thomas Michael Smith was charged in U.S. District Court in Greeneville earlier this year on a one-count criminal complaint with “murder for hire.” Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 19 and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the plea agreement, Smith contacted a confidential informant in January 2015 and talked about his frustration with his current familial and financial circumstances and how the death of the female victim would eliminate these concerns.

In response, prosecutors say the informant attempted to talk Smith out of the scheme, but several weeks later Smith again talked to the informant about his desire to have the woman killed. The informant then contacted law enforcement and explained the situation to them.

The plea agreement states on March 12, law enforcement had a confidential informant place a recorded phone call to Smith, during which time the two discussed plans to meet with a third party, whom Smith could hire to carry out the murder.

Smith discussed the method of payment, a price point of $5,000 to $10,000, and Smith’s fear that the third party could be a member of law enforcement.

Prosecutors say the next day, the same informant made another recorded phone call to Smith to discuss the trustworthiness of the people who were to arrange and commit the murder. Smith sought assurances that these individuals would not decline to commit the murder based upon the victim being female.

Smith ended the call by saying he would only be relieved of his familial and financial situation once the murder had been committed, court records state.

Court records state Smith met with the informant on March 18 to discuss how the money would be withdrawn from the bank, the timing of the payment and how the payments would be made. Smith expressed a desire for a cheaper price if possible, but noted he also wanted the murder to appear like an accident or kidnapping and for the woman not to suffer.

The reason for the murder would be to alleviate the restraints on Smith’s personal life, court records state.

Smith provided the informant with the woman’s identifying information, which was to be passed on to the third party who would commit the murder. In late March, Smith and the informant had three recorded phone conversations to further discuss the plan, finally agreeing to meet with the third party to finalize the transaction.

Prosecutors said Smith met the third party that was to commit the murder — another informant of law enforcement — where Smith agreed to a price of $6,000 with a down payment of $2,000 the following day. Following the meeting at a hotel room, Smith walked out and was arrested by law enforcement. Once Mirandized, Smith admitted to the plot.

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