Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Woman charged in murder plot; 'hit man' was informant, indictment says

You can't get good help anymore. Just ask the Newburgh woman charged with hiring a hit man for $50. He turned out to be a confidential informant for the state police, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday in Orange County Court.

Shonelle Melvelle-Grant, 26, is charged with second-degree conspiracy and second-degree criminal solicitation, both felonies. Authorities say she wanted to have a Staten Island resident named Jessica Liriano whacked in the belief that she could then get custody of Liriano's children. The women were friends and used to baby-sit for each other, Senior Assistant District Attorney John Geidel said after the indictment was unsealed.

The plot began to unravel right from the time Melvelle-Grant approached the would-be assassin in November, Geidel said. The "hit man" alerted an undercover state police investigator to the scheme, and both men met with Melvelle-Grant at least four times to work out details of the plot, according to the indictment. The meetings and several phone calls were all taped. Melvelle-Grant made a $50 down payment on the killing. She even drove one of the men to Staten Island, where the would-be victim lives, and gave the "hit man" the target's name, address and phone number, according to the indictment. The final price for the "hit" was never established. "It was being negotiated," Geidel said. Liriano was supposed to be killed on or around Aug. 10. On Aug. 11, Melvelle-Grant was arrested with little fanfare by state police.

She was arraigned in a local court and sent to Orange County Jail, where she was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. She's due to appear for another arraignment today before County Court Judge Robert Neary.

"We don't know enough to comment at this point," said Sol Lesser, whose New Windsor law firm is defending Melvelle-Grant. "She's insisting that she's not guilty."
Note to members of the Outer Party: you are not allowed access to extra-legal elimination of your enemies. That right is reserved for members of the Inner Party, and for agents of the Ministry of Love and the Ministry of Peace.