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07/27/2011

Maryland man sentenced to 10 years in prison in murder-for-hire plot

Plan unraveled by ICE's Homeland Security agents, no one was hurt

WASHINGTON - A Maryland man was sentenced to 10 years in prison on a federal charge stemming from a foiled murder-for-hire plot, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Melvin Taplet, Jr., 49, formerly of Elkton, Md., was convicted in February 2011 of the charge of use of a facility in interstate commerce to commit murder-for-hire.

"The outstanding work of our Homeland Security Investigation agents in conjunction with our state and local partners enabled us to stop a murder before it was carried out," said John P. Torres, special agent in charge of the ICE HSI field office in Washington, D.C.

According to evidence presented in court in August of 2008, Taplet was at a truck stop in Elkton, Md., where he met a man he knew only as "Jay." After a short conversation, Taplet told the man that he had been in a romantic relationship with a woman who lived in Maine.

Taplet claimed that a female friend of his former girlfriend had sabotaged his relationship, and therefore he wanted the friend killed. The defendant offered "Jay" a $1,500 "down payment" to commit the murder. However, unbeknownst to the defendant, ICE was investigating the case.

Over the next few months, the defendant had multiple telephone conversations and meetings with "Jay." During these conversations, Taplet urged "Jay" to kill his ex-girlfriend's friend in exchange for $7,000. Taplet provided "Jay" with the friend's photograph and address. Taplet also said he did not care how the friend was killed but that he wanted her to suffer. He described where the friend lived, what she looked like, and the type of car she drove. Taplet said that to avoid detection the body should be dumped in woods an hour from her apartment.

While the defendant, a trained welder, never gave money to "Jay," he did some work for him as a partial payment for the supposed agreement to murder the friend. The plot was unraveled with Taplet's arrest before anyone was harmed.

"This defendant wanted to pay $7,000 for a murder," said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. "Thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, the plan was thwarted and now the defendant will have 10 years in prison to consider the consequences of his murder-for-hire plan."