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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Men Take out Insurance Policies on the Down and Out

From NYTimes.com: Two men hatched a scheme to make hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking out insurance policies on down-and-out victims without their knowledge, then having them killed, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday at a federal death penalty trial.

One of the defendants, while eyeing a potential victim, confided to an informant ''I have a natural bum, a complete bum. ... I have $250,000 on that man,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in his opening statement.

Richard James, 46, and Ronald Mallay, 61, treated their victims ''like meat,'' Capers said. ''They put prices on their heads.''

An attorney for James countered that the causes of the deaths were in dispute, and that the accused were framed by Guyanese immigrants who were persuaded to testify with promises of U.S. residency and leniency in their own criminal cases.

The witnesses ''are nothing more than bought and paid for,'' defense attorney Steve Zissou said in federal court in Brooklyn.

James, a former insurance agent, and Mallay, an ex-postal worker, are accused in the poisoning and shooting deaths of four victims, two in the United States and two in Guyana, since the 1990s. Both pleaded innocent to federal murder conspiracy charges. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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