Man guilty in plot to kill wife

loses citizenship and savings

April 04, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Perry Hall electronics store owner was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday for plotting to kill his wife.

As part of a binding plea agreement, Ermelindo M. Piccinini will give up his U.S. citizenship and surrender his home in Baldwin and the bulk of his $185,000 savings to his estranged wife. He also will see their two children only under her terms.

Piccinini, 38, pleaded guilty yesterday to solicitation to commit murder and a handgun violation before Baltimore County Circuit Judge Lawrence R. Daniels.

Piccinini was charged after he told a customer that he was going through a messy divorce and wanted his wife killed. The defendant tried to hire an undercover state trooper who was posing as a hit man, Assistant State's Attorney Mickey Norman said in court.

The customer, Thomas Lombardi, jokingly told Piccinini that he knew somebody who would kill his wife for a fee, Norman said.

In two subsequent visits to the store, Piccinini repeatedly asked Lombardi if he had found the hit man, at one point pulling out a "substantial amount of cash" and telling Lombardi, "I have the [money] to do it," Norman said.

Lombardi contacted police, who set up a meeting between Piccinini and the trooper.

The trooper posed as a hit man when he met with Piccinini in four audiotaped meetings between June 13 and June 19, Norman said.

Norman said that Piccinini offered $10,000 for his wife's death and discussed different ways that he wanted her killed, including having her run over by a car.

"He made it very clear that there was a deadline. He said, `I got to get this job done by August,'" Norman told the court.

Piccinini was arrested after he gave the trooper a $1,000 down payment, showed him a 9 mm handgun and threatened to come after him if he absconded with the money, Norman said.

Norman said that the plea agreement ensures that Piccinini will have to leave the country when he is released from prison and that his wife will be safe.

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