For Immediate Release
Former Federal Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court to Solicitation to Commit a Crime of Violence
Defendant Attempted to Hire a Hit Man to Assault and Torture His Estranged Spouse and Her New Domestic Partner
Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, George Gonzalez, a former officer with the United States Bureau of Prisons, pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm while subject to a protective order. The proceeding was held before United States District Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), New York Field Division, announced the guilty plea.
"With today’s guilty plea, George Gonzalez will go from supervising inmates to being one himself," stated United States Attorney Donoghue. "While he attempted to hire gang members to brutally assault his wife and another individual, the defendant’s plan was thwarted thanks to the swift reaction of our law enforcement partners, including the outstanding work of ATF undercover agents." Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the United States Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, New York Field Office, for their assistance in the investigation.
"ATF remains committed to protecting the public from individuals that seek to spread violence in their community. George Gonzalez hatched a dastardly plan that could have resulted in serious harm and or death to his estranged wife and her new partner but for the valiant efforts of law enforcement spearheaded by ATF Agents and NYPD Detectives," stated ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Benedict. "I would like to thank the Special Agents and Task Force Officers of the NYPD/ ATF Joint Robbery Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Office of the Inspector General for their coordination and diligent efforts on this case. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the United States Attorney’s Office for their work in prosecuting the case."
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, on or about and between December 2016 and January 2017, Gonzalez engaged in multiple recorded meetings and conversations with individuals he believed to be gang members, but who were actually undercover ATF agents. During these meetings, the defendant offered to pay to have his estranged wife and her new domestic partner assaulted and tortured. Specifically, Gonzalez instructed the undercover agents that they should make it "look like a robbery" and that they could keep whatever valuable items were in the home as partial payment. The defendant suggested that the undercover agents "take a hammer to the spine" so that the victims would be paralyzed and "suffer…for the rest of their lives." The defendant opined that he would "do it himself," but that he had previously travelled to Florida to confront the intended targets, and the police were called. The investigation revealed that the defendant, who was assigned at the time to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, was subject to an Order of Protection issued in Family Court, prohibiting him from having any contact with his spouse and requiring him to surrender any firearms in his possession.
As part of the scheme, Gonzalez provided the undercover agents with photographs and pedigree information of the intended victims and offered to pay to have the undercover agents procure firearms and travel from New York to Florida. During the execution of a search warrant at the defendant's home in Staten Island, two loaded, unlicensed firearms were recovered.
When sentenced, the defendant faces a statutory maximum sentence of 12 ½ years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell.
Staten Island, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-51 (RRM)