A man who tried to pay a gang member $2,000 to kill his estranged wife, mother-in-law and 9-year-old daughter pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder-for-hire charges in a deal that could send him to federal prison for 12 years.
John Orlowski, 49, was charged in May after the plot was uncovered when the mother of the gang member called the FBI.
During a change-of-plea hearing in U.S. District Court, Orlowski acknowledged asking Michael Reed, a self-described member of the Crips gang, to kill his family.
"He's genuinely remorseful," said Orlowski's attorney, James Roche.
Reed, who has a lengthy criminal record, was troubled by the plan, especially the thought of killing a child, so he told his mother, according to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent.
Orlowski, who was going through a divorce, met Reed while in jail after his second arrest for violating a restraining order taken out by his wife.
The Beverly resident initially offered Reed $500 to plant drugs on his wife, saying if she were arrested he would get their house in the divorce. He later increased the offer to $2,000 and asked the man to kill his wife, mother-in-law and daughter, according to the FBI affidavit.
Reed agreed to work with the FBI and taped a conversation in which Orlowski allegedly gave him specific instructions on how to kill his family. Orlowski said he wanted his wife and mother-in-law each shot twice in the head, but asked that his daughter be shot once in the chest so she could have an open casket at her funeral, according to the FBI affidavit.
During the recorded conversation, the would-be hit man repeatedly said he was concerned that Orlowski might regret the killing of his daughter. Orlowski assured him he would not regret it, saying, "It's got more to do with my wife than anything."
Orlowski allegedly gave Reed a diagram of his wife's house, indicating the location of bedrooms and where he could find a pistol.
Protective orders violated
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Lang said prosecutors and Orlowski's defense attorney have agreed on a sentencing recommendation of 12 years. U.S. District Judge Reginald Lindsay, who is not bound by the plea deal but is likely to follow it, said he will sentence Orlowski on May 27.
Roche said the plea agreement also resolves numerous state charges against Orlowski, including four violations of a restraining order taken out against him by his wife, assault and battery and weapons charges.
In January 2007, Orlowski was arrested at his wife's home and charged with violating a restraining order, domestic assault and battery and unlawful storage of firearms. Police seized 121 guns owned by Orlowski.
He was arrested a second time a month later at his wife's home and charged again with violating the restraining order and unlawful possession of a machine gun.