EAST ST. LOUIS – A former barge worker has admitted his role in a foiled plot to abduct, extort and electrocute a wealthy man in a scheme investigators say borrowed elements from a TV show and sought to blame the killing on the intended victim’s cat.
Brett Nash, 46, of Pontoon Beach pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to a felony count of solicitation of a violent crime. Four other counts, including two murder-for-hire charges, are to be dropped. Nash faces up to 20 years in prison and as much as a $125,000 fine when sentenced March 22.
Nash was arrested in January, after federal investigators say a conscientious paroled killer helped thwart the alleged plot against a former corporate attorney who long had pursued a sexual relationship with Nash’s wife. The intended victim was not identified in court papers.
According to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Nicholas Manns, one plan Nash explored involved forcing the intended victim into a hot tub and electrocuting him by tossing in a radio and the intended victim’s cat, with the hope of misleading authorities into thinking he was accidentally killed by the pet.
Nash, an intermittently employed man who was facing a bank foreclosure of his home, also contemplated making the would-be victim believe he was wired with explosives collared around his neck – an idea Nash got from a television show – while he drained his bank account for Nash, Manns wrote. Nash also considered carjacking the man and holding him hostage for weeks while forcing him to write Nash a series of checks, Manns wrote.
Agents arrested Nash near a Kmart in Granite City – the alleged target’s hometown – shortly before the crime was to have taken place. Investigators searching his house found a diagram of the intended victim’s home, along with a backpack containing a ski mask, handcuffs, a compressed-air pellet gun resembling a semiautomatic pistol, black socks and gloves, a flashlight, plastic bag and black hair dye.
Authorities learned of the alleged plot after an acquaintance Nash enlisted for help reported the matter to his former parole officer the next day, Manns wrote. The unidentified recruit, a previously convicted killer who met Nash years ago while both worked as deckhands on river barges, went on to work with the FBI and secretly recorded conversations with Nash.
Nash planned to split the extortion proceeds with the accomplice, Manns wrote, and had insisted he could disguise the recruit using makeup tricks he learned in college.