SAN DIEGO (CN) – A Ramona tax preparer who is a former IRS agent pleaded guilty to federal charges of murder for hire, witness tampering, mail fraud – and cheating on his taxes – the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Steven Martinez pleaded guilty Friday to 12 counts, prosecutors said. He admitted he tried to hire a hit man to murder four clients he had defrauded and who were to testify against him in a criminal tax case. The supposed hit man called the FBI, who recorded and videotaped a meeting with Martinez.
According to the U.S. attorney’s statement: “Martinez told the would-be assassin ‘he could make him rich for the rest of his life, $100,000 cash, if he eliminated the lady in Rancho Santa Fe and the lady in La Jolla.'” The third party [hit man] said Martinez ‘suggested that the former employee use two different pistols for the murders and that he acquire a silencer.’
“Martinez admitted in court that he tried to prevent the former clients’ testimony by offering the third party $100,000 to murder them. He admitted he provided the third party with four written packets of detailed information about the former clients, including photos of the soon-to-be murder victims, their homes and personal information. Martinez admitted that once the murders took place, he would pay the perpetrator $40,000 in cash, followed by the remaining $60,000 in cash within 72 hours of the murders.”
Not only that, prosecutors said, but Martinez cheated on his taxes. In fact, he stole $11 million from his tax clients, telling them they owed more money than they did, and taking their alleged tax payments for himself to buy a beach home in Mexico, and pay off more than $2 million in credit card debts and loans, prosecutors said.
Martinez, 51, faces up to nearly 100 years in prison at his Nov. 30 sentencing.