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KY man found guilty of threatening to murder U.S. official

Lexington man convicted of charges including threatening to murder a federal prosecutor and solicitation to murder an officer of the United States
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From U.S. Attorney's Office
U.S. Department of Justice, Western District of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KY - (Tue 17 Oct 20170) - United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman today announced the guilty verdict, in United States District Court, of a Mexican National, on charges of threatening to murder an Assistant United States Attorney and solicitation to murder an officer of the United States.

"The rule of law requires public servants of character to enforce that law," stated United States Attorney Russell Coleman. "I am grateful to the men and women of the jury in Lexington, who through today's verdict reinforced that any serious threat to the safety and security of our prosecutors puts our entire community at risk and will not be permitted in our commonwealth ."

Edgar Villa-Castaneda, 43, remains in federal custody awaiting sentencing on January 26, 2017, at 1:30pmET, before United States District Judge Danny C. Reeves. Villa-Castaneda could be sentenced to not more than a combined 30 years' imprisonment, followed by a three year period of supervised release.

Villa-Castaneda was found guilty, following a two-day trial, of both charges in a two-count indictment returned on February 2, 2017. According to information presented at trial, on about August 5, 2015, and September 22, 2015, in Woodford County, Kentucky, Villa-Castaneda threatened to murder Assistant United States Attorney Rob Duncan, on account of the performance of Duncan's official duties, and solicited a fellow inmate at the Woodford County Detention Center (WCDC) to murder Assistant United States Attorney Duncan.

Specifically, Villa-Castaneda, was incarcerated at the WCDC in February 2015, pending federal drug charges filed by Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Rob Duncan. On September 22, another inmate at the WCDC, contacted his lawyer and reported that Villa-Castaneda, using the nickname "Flaco" was attempting to hire someone to kill AUSA Duncan. On September 24, 2015, the inmate's lawyer notified FBI Special Agent John Whitehead that Villa-Castaneda was attempting to hire someone to kill AUSA Duncan. During an interview with the FBI, the inmate explained that he and Villa-Castaneda became cellmates at the WCDC in September 2015, and that within hours Villa-Castaneda began talking to him about his hatred for AUSA Duncan. Villa-Castaneda believed that he and his incarcerated son were being unfairly targeted and erroneously being portrayed as major drug dealers by AUSA Duncan. Sometime over the next twenty-four hours, Villa-Castaneda asked the inmate if he knew anyone that could "whack" AUSA Duncan for him. Villa-Castaneda said he would pay $25,000 to have it done. Villa-Castaneda stated he currently had $15,000 hidden in radio speakers at his sister's house and he would pay an additional $10,000 after the job was done.

On November 24, 2015, Villa-Castaneda was questioned by FBI special agents at the Grayson County Detention Center. Villa-Castaneda was read his Miranda rights, and signed a form stating he understood his rights and understood he was waiving those rights before admitting to making the threats and soliciting an inmate to assist in the murder of AUSA Duncan.

Mister Duncan received an appointment by President Donald Trump to serve as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. That appointment awaits confirmation by the United States Senate.

Due to recusal by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky, this case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, A. Spencer McKiness, and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

This story was posted on 2017-10-18 07:53:47
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