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For the second time in two days, a man who was caught up in a failed murder-for-hire scheme was sentenced to three years in prison and faces deportation as a result of his conviction.
Elmer Melendez, 30, of New London had pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill Oscar “Tato” Valentin in August 2011. A native of Honduras who has been in the United States illegally since 2006, Melendez will likely be deported as a result of his conviction, according to prosecutor Christa L. Baker.
According to the state, Antonio “Wilson” Peña of New London had arranged to pay Melendez and Gerardo Carrillo a total of $15,000 to kill Valentin, a rival drug dealer who has since been charged with federal drug distribution crimes and is incarcerated.
Melendez had planned to distract Valentin with a gun while Carrillo fatally stabbed him. The men had gathered clothing, a knife and gun and were headed to Valentin’s apartment when they were stopped by New London police, who had been tipped off by an informant.
Peña was previously sentenced to eight years in prison. Carrillo was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison and, as a Mexican native who was in the United States illegally, also faces likely deportation.
“I’m very sorry for everything that has happened,” Melendez, bowing his head, said through a Spanish interpreter.
Melendez’s attorney, Bruce McIntyre, said his client had gotten caught up in the drug trade and allowed himself to be “snared” into the murder scheme.
“He did not think he could withdraw from this plot without putting himself and his family at great risk,” said McIntyre.
Carrillo’s attorney said the same thing about his client on Tuesday.
In September 2012, Peña’s brother-in-law, Javier Reyes, 36, was fatally stabbed at the Huntington Street apartment where Peña’s family resides. Court officials have said Valentin, the intended target of the murder-for-hire scheme, was suspected in that homicide, which remains under investigation.
Valentin was arrested in a massive drug sweep in April. He is accused of receiving wholesale quantities of cocaine and selling it for redistribution by lower-level drug dealers. He remains incarcerated while his case is pending in federal court.