A white man in South Carolina sought a hit man to kill his black neighbor, hang the body from a tree and leave a “flaming cross” on the neighbor’s lawn, according to a court filing.
Fortunately for the neighbor, the hit man was an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The man accused of doing the hiring, Brandon Cory Lecroy, 25, was indicted by a grand jury this week on two charges related to the scheme. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, a confidential source tipped off the F.B.I. on March 19 that Mr. Lecroy, of Hodges, S.C., had reached out to an unnamed white supremacist organization seeking help in the murder.
The following day, the F.B.I. agent posing as a hit man spoke with Mr. Lecroy, who texted him images and names of two targets, including the neighbor, identified in the charging document by the initials F.J.
Mr. Lecroy told the agent over the phone, “$500 and he’s a ghost,” according to the affidavit. He also asked that a “flaming cross” be left in the yard and that the neighbor be hanged from a tree.
While this plan was more elaborate than most, it is not uncommon for law enforcement officials to hear of someone asking about murder-for-hire and then for them to pose as hit men to make an arrest.
In March, for example, a Manhattan man was arrested after the F.B.I. said he enlisted an undercover agent in an expanding scheme to eliminate noisy neighbors. In August, a Florida woman was sentenced to 16 years in prison after negotiating the murder of her husband with an undercover police officer, recorded for posterity in a video now on YouTube.
Ohio has been transfixed for years by the case against Tara Lambert, a former model accused of hiring an undercover sheriff’s deputy to kill the mother of her stepchildren. She pleaded not guilty a second time in February, after a prior conviction was overturned on appeal.
For fans of the genre, Mr. LeCroy’s plot followed a predictable course, according to court documents.
A few days after the first conversation, he confirmed the agreement in a second phone call with the agent. He recommended times for the murder, described his plan to take his neighbor’s land and promised more jobs to come.
He also made one more request. He wanted a “ghost gun,” an untraceable 9 mm handgun that hadn’t been stolen, along with two clips. It was not disclosed what he planned to do with the gun.
Then, the plan escalated. On April 9, Mr. Lecroy met the agent in person, pointing out the neighbor’s residence, discussing the future jobs, and handing over a $100 down payment.
Mr. Lecroy was arrested soon after and booked into a South Carolina detention center the following afternoon.
The judge in the case ordered that Mr. Lecroy get a psychological evaluation. His lawyer declined to comment and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for later this month.