A former Internal Revenue Service revenue agent and tax preparer has pleaded guilty to charges that he tried to hire a hit man to kill four of his former clients who were scheduled to testify against him in a tax fraud case.
Steven Martinez pleaded guilty August 10 in a federal court in San Diego to criminal charges including murder-for-hire, witness tampering involving attempted murder, solicitation of a crime of violence, mail fraud, filing false tax returns, Social Security fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. Martinez pled guilty to a total of 12 counts in the superseding indictment.
As part of his guilty plea, Martinez admitted that in late February 2012, he solicited a third party to murder four former clients who were victims of his fraud and were slated to testify against him in his pending criminal tax case. Martinez reportedly directed his limousine driver, Norman Russell Thellmann, to deliver cash to a hit man who had been promised $100,000 to carry out the hit job.
According to the complaint, 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 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 hit man 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.