Man Convicted of Plot to Behead Judge and Prosecutor
Once Machacek contacted authorities, Romano was approached by an undercover Suffolk County police detective posing as a hit man offering his services.
Romano then arranged the beating of a car mechanic and the attempted murders of the judge and prosecutor through coded communications with Dejvid Mirkovic, a business associate and now-sentenced co-defendant. Romano said he wanted the victims' heads stored in formaldehyde as "souvenirs."
Mirkovic, who was sentenced to 24 years in August 2013 after pleading guilty, did not testify at Romano's trial.
The mechanic's beating was staged and Romano and Mirkovic were arrested in October 2012. When Mirkovic was taken into custody, he was found with $18,000 and a loaded handgun after paying the fake hit man $22,000.
Before reaching yesterday's verdict, the jury reviewed the first wired conversation between Romano and Machacek, which took place in a Central Islip federal court holding pen in August 2012. The defense insisted that the approximately one-hour encounter was critical for the jury to consider, because it illustrated how Machacek allegedly prodded Romano, who was susceptible to bluster, into talking about plans for murder when he was instead focused on fighting pending restitution proceedings in the fraud case (NYLJ, Jan. 10).
To avoid conflicts, the case was specially assigned to Southern District Judge John Keenan.
The prosecution's case was supervised by the office of Western District U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr., but was handled in court by Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall Miller, chief of the office's criminal division, and Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorneys Una Dean.
"A threat against a member of the criminal justice system, such as a judge or an attorney, is nothing less than an attempt to subvert the system, and as such will not be tolerated," Hochul said in a statement.