Dec 12 (Reuters) - A Monmouth County man was sentenced on
Friday to life in prison without parole for conspiring to
murder New Jersey's chief federal judge in exchange for
Derrick Menter, 39, was convicted in July for the plot
against U.S. District Judge Garrett Brown Jr., but he was
acquitted of attempted murder of the judge.
The plan was hatched while Menter was being held at the
Monmouth County Correctional Institution, according to
prosecutors. Menter was incarcerated there for failing to
register as a sex offender, said his defense lawyer, Michael
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Khan told jurors at the
trial that Menter -- whose nickname was "Murder" -- was a
member of the "Sex, Money, Murder" set of the Bloods street
gang, and that he was out for money and revenge against Brown,
who had sentenced Bloods in the past, according to a transcript
of the opening arguments.
While at the jail, another Blood, Ishmael "Ish" Armah,
introduced Menter to Robert Sacks, a "white-collar" criminal
with "money to burn," Khan said at trial. Sacks was slated to
be sentenced by Brown for a multimillion-dollar telemarketing
scam, according to court papers. Menter was scheduled to be
released Feb. 18, six days before Sacks' sentencing.
But before the plan could be carried out, Sacks blew the
whistle. At trial, he testified that Armah told him, "We're
going to take care of your problem with Judge Brown." He also
claimed that Armah came to him and said he and Menter wanted
$100,000 to murder the judge.
The case was tried in Camden federal court, but was
prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania because the target of the crime was a
New Jersey federal judge. Chief Judge Harvey Bartle III, also
of the Eastern District, presided over the trial for the same
'DEVELOPMENTALLY CHALLENGED FRAUDSTER'
Khan described Sacks as a "developmentally challenged
fraudster," but said he was no gangster. By alerting
authorities to the plot, Khan said, Sacks hoped to be rewarded
with a lighter sentence.
The government's evidence included audio recordings of the
conversations, according to court papers.
Riley told the jury that Sacks was anything but
developmentally disabled. Sacks managed to run a huge
telemarketing scam, and worried about facing life in federal
prison, Riley said, according to the transcript.
It was clear that Sacks had a lot of money, Riley added,
and Menter and the other inmates had tried to con him by
offering to help him with his predicament.
Riley played down the government's audio recordings
capturing Menter's talk of killing the judge, and contended
that Menter was simply trying to up the ante in attempt to
increase the amount of money he could get out of Sacks. "Sounds
terrible," Riley said. "But, if it's part of a plan to defraud
the fraudster ... it all makes sense."
At the sentencing hearing last Friday in Camden, Menter
continued to declare his innocence, Riley said during a phone
interview with Reuters.
"It's one of those situations that because of the way the
sentencing guidelines are, the judge had very little discretion
given the circumstances," Riley said.
The government insisted on a life sentence, according to
its sentencing memorandum.
"While in prison awaiting disposition of his own criminal
case, the defendant named $100,000 as his reward for a chilling
execution designed to both retaliate against the victim for
carrying out his duties as a judge and prevent him from doing
so in the future," the memo said.
The U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment on the
Armah pleaded guilty in October to a charge related to the
plot and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to
The case is United States v. Derrick Menter, U.S. District
Court, District of New Jersey, No. 11-0159.
For Menter: Michael Riley of the Law Offices of Riley &
For the government: Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Khan
and Neuman Leverett III.
(Reporting by Jennifer Golson)
Follow us on Twitter: @ReutersLegal