A convict with a conscience helped the feds unravel a murder-for-hire plot that involved a carjacking and electrocution by cat, according to federal court records.
It also included the suspect's ex-stripper wife being used as bait.
Brett L. Nash, 45, of 43 Shirlwin Drive in Granite City, was arraigned in federal court Tuesday on charges of interference of commerce by threats of violence. Charges unsealed Wednesday state he recruited an unidentified friend to "help in robbing an old man" who Nash intended to lure with his wife, carjack, hold hostage while the victim wrote checks and then murder.
Nash planned to put the victim in a Jacuzzi and electrocute him by throwing in a radio, court records state. They planned to toss the cat in the water to make it appear the cat knocked in the radio.
The plot came apart when Nash's unnamed friend told FBI agent Nick Manns that "he did not want the intended victim killed." The friend was previously convicted of second-degree murder and sexual assault.
"He told me he had straightened out his life, believed in God and could not live with himself if someone were murdered and he had not done anything about it," Manns states in the affidavit accompanying the federal charges. The document also states the friend was worried that Nash was setting him up.
Here's how the court records lay out Nash's plan. The victim and would-be accomplice are never named.
Nash approached his friend Jan. 9 with the plot.
He told his friend that the person he was going to rob "liked women who were crack heads" and his wife knew him through her crack-head friend. Nash described his wife as a cross between Angelina Jolie and a Barbie doll and said the victim wanted to have sex with her.
Nash said his wife knew the intended victim had about $250,000 and that she could get him a key to the victim's house.
Nash wanted his friend's help to carjack the victim while Nash's wife was in the car so police would not suspect she was involved in the criminal activity with Nash.
After carjacking the intended victim, Nash's plan was to take the victim back to the victim's house where Nash would hold him hostage for up to two weeks. During that time Nash would have the victim write out checks, including $5,000 to the accomplice for "labor" and $65,000 so the wife could buy her house out of foreclosure.
He also talked about strapping a bomb to the victim to force him to withdraw money from the Bank of Edwardsville. He planned to use an idea he'd seen on television, rigging up a collar and a Bluetooth device so Nash could hear the victim's conversation with the teller.
Nash planned to kill the victim after he had gotten all of his money by putting the victim in his Jacuzzi and tossing in the radio, adding the cat.
Nash also discussed an alternate plot that included stabbing a teen-aged blond girl who lived with the victim.
They would extort money by putting the victim in a chair with a hood, dripping chicken blood on him and then putting the victim's bloody fingerprint on a kitchen knife. They would threaten to stab the teen and call police to let the victim explain how his fingerprint got on the knife unless the victim paid them.
Nash told his friend that he had been to the victim's house and had been planning the murder for about a year, the affidavit said. In addition to the $5,000 check from the victim, Nash was promising the accomplice half of the take from the extortion.
Nash also told the friend that his wife was a former dancer and that the pair had made money for the past two years by extorting her married customers. She would promise sex for $1,000 at a hotel room and Nash would take pictures of the victim's car and then enter the room to take pictures of the victim.
Nash said they'd obtained $25,000 from one man that way.
He also said the intended victim had security cameras after being ripped off by a crack user and had cameras in his shower to take pictures of women who stayed over. The man was about 60 and looked like Barney Fife, was a former corporate lawyer who got into computers and then retired, lived off Maryville Road in Granite City and regularly traveled to Las Vegas to gamble accompanied by four crack heads, court records quoted Nash as saying.
Nash said he'd been in entertainment and could disguise his accomplice using make-up techniques he'd learned in college. He also discussed using hair styling gel and latex gloves to avoid leaving DNA, even taking their used toilet tissue with them.
At the direction of the FBI, Nash's friend called Nash at 7:34 a.m. on Friday and gathered evidence against him, including text messages.
Nash is in federal custody. He was arrested Monday afternoon at his home after the friend made a dry run to the intended victim's home.
The plot was to begin 9 p.m. Monday night, the court record stated.
FBI agent Manns interviewed the intended victim, who said he had known Nash's wife for about two years, had watched her shower but had not had sex with her. He said he'd recently installed the Jacuzzi, had been hoping for a hot tub party with Nash's wife and the blond teen and they planned to get together Monday or Tuesday. He also said Nash's wife had taken him for cataract surgery.
He said he had accounts at the Bank of Edwardsville. He also said he had a cat.
Manns also talked to Nash's wife, who said he'd physically abused her for the past two years and that it escalated in the past six months and especially during the past two weeks. She showed Manns photos of bruising, and a recording of an assault during which Nash told her she had no choice but to be part of the extortion plan.
When Nash's house was searched Monday, agents found a diagram of the intended victim's house and a gray backpack containing a black ski mask, handcuffs, a CO2 gun that looks like a .45 caliber pistol, black socks and gloves, a flashlight, plastic bag and black hair dye.