Pennsylvania man tried to hire Newark assassin

Dominic Luis Escalera, 37, of Allentown, PA, was indicted on charges of murder-for-hire and being a felon in possession of a firearm related to a plot to kill two people in the Allentown area earlier this year.

The indictment alleges that from about January 28, 2021 to about February 17, 2021, Escalera used a cell phone and traveled from Newark, NJ to Allentown to arrange for the murders of two individuals, identified as M.R. and A.R., and he made an agreement to pay someone to commit the murders using controlled substances and cash.

The indictment further alleges that Escalera, knowing he had previously been convicted of a felony offense, illegally possessed a firearm loaded with four live rounds of ammunition.

The previous felony conviction precludes Escalera from possessing a firearm.

“This is the second murder-for-hire case our office has announced in the last three weeks,” said Jennifer Arbittier Williams, the United States Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania. “These charges are a warning to anyone thinking that solicitation of homicide is a solution to your problems: This is not a game. If you try to hire someone to commit murder, you will face an aggressive federal investigation and very serious charges. Our office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners across the District to do all we can do prevent senseless violence.”

“This indictment illustrates the power of the combined efforts of ATF and our law enforcement partners,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “The vigilant work of our law enforcement partners enabled them to prevent a murder and hold the defendant responsible for his alleged crimes. I want to thank the Allentown Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their continued effort in combatting violent crime.”

“The Pennsylvania State Police worked in collaboration with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to ensure a thorough and prompt investigation,” said Major Jeremy Richard, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “I would like to extend my gratitude to these joint forces whose teamwork spoiled Mr. Escalera’s efforts. Plots to potentially harm or kill another person are serious crimes that carry severe consequences. The Pennsylvania State Police is committed to ensuring the safety of Commonwealth residents.”

If convicted, Escalera faces a maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $750,000 fine.

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