Ex-engineer convicted of hiring a hit man in bid to kill his wife

January 13, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A Columbia man was convicted yesterday of trying to resolve a heated divorce and custody battle by hiring a hit man in an attempt to kill his wife.

Mark Cordero, 43, wearing a suit and leg irons in Howard County Circuit Court, admits to the crime, his attorney said, but pleaded not guilty because of technical flaws in the case.

Cordero, a former computer engineer for International Business Machines Corp., was found guilty by Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr.

Prosecutors said Cordero could face up to life in prison when he is sentenced March 31, although state guidelines recommend a sentence of four to nine years for solicitation of murder.

According to a statement of facts read in court, Cordero met the "hit man" in an Ellicott City shopping center June 28 last year and gave him a picture of his wife. He gave him $3,000 and promised another $6,000 later. What he did not know is that the man was Mark Verderaime, an undercover Howard County police officer.

Yesterday, Cordero's wife, Regina, flanked by family and friends, looked on as prosecutors read the statement which included transcripts of tapes recorded by police.

"Is she scared of him? Yes, no question about it," David Harvis, Regina Cordero's attorney, said in court. "Her source of strength seems to be that right will happen."

Prosecutors said that when Cordero contacted a man to find someone to kill his wife, the man told police, and Verderaime took over.

According to the statement of facts, Cordero told Verderaime he wanted custody of his 3-year-old son. The only way to do that, TTC according to Cordero's conversation in the statement, was to have his wife "offed" while he was on a scuba trip in Belize and make it look like a carjacking or robbery.

Cordero said: "I'd do this thing myself, but you know the heat would be on me," prosecutors said, reading from the record.

Verderaime asked: "You want her killed, not hurt, right?" [Cordero] replied, "Yes," prosecutors said, reading from the record.

When Verderaime told Cordero he did not want to kill Regina -- known as Gina -- in front of their son, Evan, Cordero told him not to worry, the statement said.

"If you have to do it while the kid is present, just do it, and I will take care of the kid," Cordero said, according to the statement.

His attorney, Judith R. Catterton, said Cordero admits trying to hire the hit man. But, she said, Cordero pleaded not guilty because they plan to appeal to a higher court, claiming flaws in the charging document and illegal wiretapping.

"What he did was awful. It was wrong. He knows it was wrong," said Catterton, alleging Cordero was suicidal after he was arrested.

His problems with a hot temper permeated the couple's marriage, according to court records in their divorce proceedings.

In 1995, Mrs. Cordero learned from a co-worker that her husband had talked of killing her, prosecutors said. Concerned about her safety and that of her son, she decided to leave her husband and move to Towson, according to court records.

Catterton vehemently denies Mark Cordero made such statements.

Pub Date: 1/13/98

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