NEW YORK -- A disgraced broker already in prison for engineering a $100 million mortgage fraud pleaded guilty Monday to orchestrating a murder-for-hire scheme targeting a witness who testified against him, Manhattan prosecutors said.
From his prison cell in upstate New York, Aaron Hand, 40, arranged for an initial $150 payment to an undercover police officer posing as a hit man, according to court documents. In a lengthy conversation in a prison visiting area caught on tape by investigators, Hand said he would pay $2,000 after the murder was completed.
"I wish I was there -- to watch him suffer," Hand told the undercover cop, prosecutors said.
He also directed that if the intended target’s wife and young children were at home when the murder took place, they should also be killed to eliminate them as possible witnesses, according to prosecutors.
Hand, formerly of Oyster Bay Cove, N.Y., and the ex-president of AFG Financial Group, was convicted in 2010 of orchestrating a massive mortgage fraud involving the sale of distressed real estate to investors at inflated prices and profiting as the properties fell into foreclosure.
At his sentencing for the fraud conviction, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman called Hand "arrogant" and noted that he "lived very high" on his ill-gotten gains.
Now Hand, already serving 8 to 25 years for the fraud scheme, faces many more years behind bars at his sentencing for the murder conspiracy charges on Feb. 6.
In a statement, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said Hand's plot "struck at the heart of the justice system."
"Nothing is more important than the safety of witnesses," Vance said.