FBI arrests Lawrence man in murder-for-hire scheme

March 10, 2011

By Mark E. Vogler mvogler@eagletribune.com
 
The FBI says Jonathan "Tony" Diaz tried to pay two men with cocaine and heroin to kill a Lawrence man for stealing drugs from his drug supplier.
But the two men Diaz approached were cooperating witnesses working for the FBI Gang Task Force.
Diaz, 26, of 37 Knox St., was arrested and booked at the Methuen Police Station Tuesday night after giving the cooperating witnesses a .38-caliber revolver loaded with five rounds and an order to shoot the intended target in the face.
After spending the night in a cell at the Methuen police station, Diaz was taken to U.S. District Court in Boston yesterday where he was formally charged with use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. The charge relates to use of cell phones.
If convicted, Diaz could serve up to 10 years in federal prison and face a $250,000 fine, with three years of supervised release to follow. A detention hearing is set for March 16 at 11:30 a.m. in U.S. District Court.
Methuen, Lawrence and state police along with Essex County sheriff's deputies assisted the FBI in an investigation that began Feb. 25, when one of the cooperating witnesses who was working with the FBI Gang Task Force met with agents to tell them of the offer he had received two days earlier.
On three separate occasions since that briefing, the cooperating witnesses received small amounts of cocaine and heroin from Diaz during meetings that were recorded in connection with the murder-for-hire plot, according to court documents. Diaz told the witnesses they could earn about $3,000 by selling the drugs.
"Diaz also explained that the target was a runner for Diaz's drug connection and had kept the drugs rather than deliver them," FBI special agent Daniel R. Romanzo wrote in a 16-page affidavit.
"Diaz said that the target had stolen '100 plus grams' from his connection. Diaz also explained that '(n)obody is going to know that that hit came down from my connection, because after that, that guy has taken out more people...," the agent said.
After handing off the gun, Romanzo said Diaz and his girlfriend, Denise Moscat, were stopped in their beige Camry after a short pursuit.
Moscat, 44, of 37 Knox St., was booked on charges filed by state police — operating a motor vehicle to endanger and failure to stop for police.
Diaz signed a written consent form, agreeing to talk to FBI agents. He admitted to meeting with the two cooperating witnesses and providing them with the revolver, 15 to 30 minutes before his arrest, according to Romanzo's affidavit.
But, he told the agents he had borrowed the gun and was returning it. He also admitted to providing the witnesses with a small quantity of cocaine and heroin.
"Diaz said that he was not a drug dealer but had the drugs for personal use," Romanzo wrote in his affidavit.
"Diaz denied trying to hire anyone to have someone killed," the agent said.
The evidence against Diaz includes audio and videotape recordings of his conversations with the cooperating witnesses, small amounts of cocaine and heroin, the revolver and four cell phones that were allegedly used to carry out the murder-for-hire plot.
Agent Romanzo noted in his affidavit that he has spent much of the last year investigating gangs and gang-related activity "in and around the cities of Lawrence and Haverhill."