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Crime

New Yorker allegedly asked ‘hitmen’ to silence noisy neighbours for good. But he hired FBI agents

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 4:15am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 9:34pm

Federal agents arrested and charged a New York man with murder-for-hire earlier this week. If convicted, he could face 30 years in prison.

The alleged murder scheme that initially targeted a Washington Heights superintendent would eventually expand to three targets and would drain every last cent from Joel Rosquette’s bank account.

All the while, FBI agents were onto his every move and decision.

Joel Rosquette had despised his neighbours across the hall who were always throwing parties in the small Washington Heights flat in Manhattan. The man, a teenager, and his friends would stay up until the early morning hours causing a racket. Rosquette, who goes by “Ricky,” was also convinced he was dealing drugs.

Other tenants had tried to get the noisy neighbours evicted, but the superintendent wouldn’t allow it. Rosquette was convinced that the superintendent once had an “affair” with a woman who lived in that flat and turned a blind eye to the parties, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Fed up, Rosquette came up with a solution. He would have the superintendent “taken care of,” the complaint said. He asked a guy he knew for a referral for someone who did “that kind of work.”

The acquaintance set him up with a hit man who could get the job done for US$10,000, with a US$1,000 down payment.

“Let me tell you something, Rick,” the acquaintance told him in June. “Once I get the ball rolling . . . there’s no coming back. . . . You want me to kill this guy, you sure?”

“110 per cent yes,” Rosquette responded, according to the complaint. So it was settled.

But his acquaintance had other plans. He was a confidential informant for the FBI. And the hit man was an undercover federal agent.

“In the end, he was fooled by the merits of his own plan,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jnr said in a statement.

Conversations and exchanges recorded by the confidential informant and undercover agent, detailed in a federal complaint, provide a window into Rosquette’s alleged scheme.

The plot picked up steam in February, when Rosquette told his middle man – the confidential informant – that he had a change of plans. Instead of killing the superintendent, Rosquette wanted to kill the noisy neighbours themselves, according to the complaint.

“Rage is rage,” Rosquette said to his middle man over the phone on February 22. “When you have rage, you do things. . . . Rage in the heart. When you have that, it’s personal.”

But there was one problem: Rosquette was broke. He had just lost his job as a New York City tour bus driver, and it was unlikely he would be able to come up with the money to pay for the murders of two people.

So Rosquette would order the “hit man” to kill another guy he knew, who ran a service station in Staten Island, break into his safe and steal the cash, the complaint said.

He told the hit man to wrap the gas pumps with yellow “caution” tape to make them look out-of-order to deter customers.

On March 1, Rosquette gave the hit man the name of the service station employee. The hit man, who was actually the undercover FBI agent, sent Rosquette a photo of the employee he found on social media.

“Bingo!!!!!!!! OUTSTANDING,” Rosquette responded, according to the federal complaint.

“I know where he is, I know where to find him,” the undercover agent told Rosquette. “Next time you hear from me is to tell you it’s done.”

On March 6, the agent called Rosquette, telling him the task was complete. He had killed the service station operator, left the man’s body in the service station, and disguised the scene as if it were a robbery, he told Rosquette.

The agent then drove Rosquette to a bank in Manhattan, where Rosquette withdrew what remained in his bank account: US$75. He gave all of it to the agent, in return for the crime he supposedly completed, the complaint said.

The agent told Rosquette he had stolen about US$12,000 from the service station. It would be plenty to pay for the murders of the neighbours if Rosquette still wanted to move forward with the scheme.

Rosquette agreed, the complaint said. He told the “hit man” where the neighbours lived, and ordered the killing to take place the following week, according to the complaint.

The FBI arrested him after he left the meeting. He has yet to file a plea.