The Home Depot – Feds: Murder-For-Hire Plot Hatched In Pawtucket Parking Lots
PROVIDENCE, RI — A Providence man who said he was stiffed out of $8,500 by a Cranston contractor offered $3,500 to an undercover FBI agent to have the contractor and one of his employees tortured and killed, federal prosecutors say.
Agustin Vinas, 51, was arrested Friday by members of the FBI Rhode Island Safe Streets Task Force. He is charged under a statute that governs the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. In U.S. District Court on Friday, Vinas was ordered held by federal judge Lincoln D. Almond.
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Over two weeks in April, Vinas was caught on tape discussing a paid killing while on the telephone and while sitting in Pawtucket and Attleboro parking lots, according to an application for criminal complaint filed by FBI Special Agent Caolan Ruadhan Scott. Vinas allegedly said he would pay $3,000 for two murders, an extra $500 to make the bodies disappear, and that he would like to have the victims tortured. Vinas was recorded while speaking on his cell phone and while sitting inside his blue Honda Ridgeline, and $300 in cash was exchanged as a down payment, the affidavit states.
According to the redacted FBI affidavit: On April 19, a working confidential informant told Scott that Vinas, who he knew as an acquaintance, wanted to have a construction contractor killed. Vinas had told the informant he was angry because he was not paid by the contractor for work he did. Vinas claimed the contractor had threatened to harm his family if he continued with his collection efforts. The informant told Vinas that he might know someone interested in the job, and subsequently went to Scott to provide information.
The confidential informant and Vinas later spoke on the phone about the “project” and made some plans. The FBI corroborated information provided by the informant and started surveilling Vinas, the affidavit states.
On April 22, the informant and a second federal agent who posed as a hit man drove to an area in Pawtucket off Exit 27 of I-95 to meet up with Vinas. The two followed Vinas as he drove to a Burger King on Cedar Street, to the Shark Lounge on Pawtucket Avenue, and back to a Dunkin’ Donuts on Cedar Street, where the three assembled inside Vinas’ extended cab pickup truck and talked. Vinas allegedly offered the FBI agent $3,000 to have the two men killed with another $500 to have the bodies disposed of.
“I don’t want there to be any evidence,” Vinas allegedly said. “I want to disappear them.”
Four days later, Vinas met up with the “hit man” and the informant in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The three again sat inside the Honda Ridgeline. Vinas allegedly gave the agent $100 dollars as a down payment for the murders, and repeated that he was sure he wanted to have the men killed.
On April 27, a judge signed a search warrant to track the location of Vinas’ phone. On the 29th, Vinas departed from an address on Cooper Street in Central Falls and headed back to the Attleboro Home Depot for another meeting. That’s where Vinas allegedly gave the undercover FBI agent another $200 in cash and said he would pay the remainder after the job was done.
A federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Vinas on April 30 and he was taken into custody and ordered held by a judge. Vinas at the time of his arrest was out on bond for a felony assault and battery case out of Providence/Bristol County Superior Court, state court records show.
The arrest and detention of Vinas was announced by Actin U.S. Attorney Richard B. Myrus and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolanta. The case is being prosecuted by A.U.S.A. Paul F. Daly, Jr.