A Santa Barbara County man who solicited a “hitman” to murder a Bel-Air man, his wife and a business associate was sentenced Monday to 72 months in federal prison for orchestrating a murder-for-hire plot that stemmed from a decade-old business dispute.
Eugene Darryl Temkin, 51, of Goleta, California, received the six-year sentence from United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson.
Following a bench trial in August, Judge Wilson found Temkin guilty of soliciting a crime of violence, attempting to interfere with interstate commerce by threats and violence, and using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire.
“The evidence showed that defendant engaged in criminal conduct of the worst sort: With meticulous planning and full contemplation, defendant agreed to pay a hitman, ‘Pavel’ [who was actually an undercover law enforcement officer], to brutally kill in cold blood three people, two of whom he barely knew,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing brief. “What is more, these killings were only to take place after ‘Pavel’ first tortured the victims in order to force them to pay $15 million into defendant’s off-shore bank account.”
The investigation began in late 2009 when a source provided information to law enforcement indicating that Temkin planned to hire a professional killer to murder his former business partner.
Over the following several months, undercover law enforcement personnel, posing as professional killers for hire, met with Temkin to discuss how the plot should be carried out. Temkin told the “hitmen” that the victim should be forced to pay $15 million to compensate Temkin for losses he believed he had sustained when a business deal to open a casino in Africa fell apart. Throughout the undercover meetings, Temkin proposed and planned various forms of murder, torture, and rape to be exacted on the victims in order to force them to pay him millions of dollars.
Prior to his meetings with the undercover officers, Temkin had for almost 10 years harassed and threatened the victims. The harassment included hacking into their e-mail, stealing their personal belongings and obtaining the victims’ personal information, including photographs and information about their children.
During the final undercover meeting with a purported “hitman” on July 8, 2010 in Encino, Temkin paid the undercover agent $3,000, which was the first installment of a $30,000 fee to extort and murder the victims.
According to the plan agreed on by Temkin and the undercover agent, the extortion and murders were to be carried out in Spain, where Temkin believed the victims were vacationing. During this meeting, Temkin provided the undercover agent with, among other things, photographs of the victims, their address in Spain, and their identifying information, such as social security numbers and dates of birth. Temkin also gave the undercover agent information he would need to deposit the $15 million extortion payment into a bank account Temkin had control of in Uruguay.
Temkin has been held without bond since his arrest in the summer of 2010.
The investigation in this case was conducted by Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.