Monday, August 5, 2013

Murder For Hire Plot Results In Career Suicide

An Illinois attorney convicted in a murder-for-hire plot has filed a motion consenting to disbarment.

The motion recites:

Movant agreed to enter into a voluntary  plea of guilty to Count Three, which charged that on August 2, 2011, Movant used  his cellular telephone to communicate a plan to pay money as consideration for a  murder-for-hire, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1958.

As part of that plea, Movant admitted that on August 1,  2011, Movant spoke with an undercover agent and identified the intended victim  of the murder-for-hire. Movant agreed to pay $20,000.00 to an undercover agent  for the killing of the intended victim, and to provide an initial payment of  $1,500.00 and a photograph of the intended victim to the undercover agent on  August 2, 2011. On August 2, 2011, Movant used his cellular telephone to call  the undercover agent and arrange a meeting wherein Movant gave $1,500.00 and a  photograph of the intended murder victim to the undercover officer.

ABA Journal had this August 2011 account of the charges:

A young Illinois lawyer who had seemingly bright career prospects is being held without bond after allegedly making a $7,000 down payment on a $20,000 contract to kill his girlfriend's ex-husband.

Jason Smiekel, 29, was federally charged with plotting murder for hire after allegedly giving the money on Thursday to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent at a suburban Chicago restaurant, reports the Courier-News. No one was hurt, however, because the man to whom Smiekel allegedly paid the $7,000 was a federal undercover agent.

An affidavit filed in the Rockford case is posted on the McHenry County Blog. It says a whistle-blower approached by Smiekel alerted authorities.

The lawyer allegedly said he had represented his girlfriend in a divorce case (in fact, it apparently was her ex-husband who was Smiekel's client). Smiekel also allegedly said he needed to have his girlfriend's ex-husband killed because the man was about to testify against him in an unspecified "proceeding."

The ex-husband, Smiekel allegedly said, had "information about Jason that could get Jason in trouble and lead to a criminal indictment," as the affidavit puts it.

A partner at Mohr Hill & Smiekel, an Algonquin firm that specializes in matrimonial law, Smiekel was an excellent lawyer who "had a very special talent" and was respected by judges and everyone else familiar with his legal work, senior partner Terry Mohr tells the ABA Journal.

Although the affidavit says Smiekel represented his unidentified girlfriend in the divorce, Mohr says that is incorrect and Smiekel formerly represented her ex-husband, the man he allegedly sought to have killed. Smiekel stepped aside from the representation, Mohr says, due to becoming involved with the man's ex-wife.

"Still numb" and in a state of near-disbelief this morning over the news of his partner's arrest, Mohr said it came as "a complete shock" when Smiekel called him on Thursday night, said that he had been arrested and asked for Mohr's help in finding an attorney.

According to the consent, he was sentenced to 102 months in prison. (Mike Frisch)

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