Undercover Hit Men
They went looking to hire a killer, but ended up behind barsBy Dave Grossi | Mar 29, 2018
There’s no doubt that undercover work is exciting, if not dangerous. In fact, it’s the exciting part that makes UC work so addictive. One of the most unusual cases our task force team of UC narcs became involved in was a “murder for hire” investigation. [Note: In order to respect the privacy of not only the intended targets of this contract hit, the minor child it centered around, as well as the convicted subjects, I have masked the names of all those involved.]
Putting Out the Hit
During the course of our investigating a large-scale meth, coke, heroin and marijuana operation, our team of deep cover UC cops was introduced to a pair of individuals who were actually on the fringe of the dope operation. Many times, living in the deep cover drug world requires UC narcs to spend an inordinate amount of time with the vermin they are dealing with to maintain their cover. This was one of those times.
Eliza Tasker, age 18 at the time, was involved in a custody dispute over her 3-year old daughter, Angela. Shortly after Angela was born, Tasker gave up custody of her baby. The foster parents, Robert, a local pastor and his wife, Julie, while not parties to the civil action between Tasker and the Department of Social Services, were aware of her fight to regain custody.
Worried that she might lose the case that was being heard in Family Court, Tasker and her live-in boyfriend, Marshall Krogran, age 22, began discussing how they wished someone would “off” both the pastor and his wife. Doing so, thought Tasker, might afford her a better opportunity to get Angela back. She related that she had been talking on the street to several people who might take her up on her offer. When one of our team asked how much she was willing to pay for this contract hit, Tasker said she’d pay $1,000 for each, or $2,000 total.
“Sounds reasonable,” said one of our UC cops. “We might be able to help you out with that.”
Upon bringing back this info to our bosses, we got the go ahead to follow it up. However, our local DA said that an overt act involving both subjects in furtherance of the crime has to be made to make the case for conspiracy to commit murder. A payment of cash would be considered an overt act …
Over the course of the next 10 weeks, numerous meetings between Tasker, Krogran and several UC cops posing as “out-of-town hired guns” of varying expertise, were set up. Many involved taping the conversations. Several were even videotaped by a tailing UC car. Two down payments of cash were also documented. One of our UC team members, a detective born and raised in Great Britain, elected to pose as a shadowy figure known only to Tasker and Krogran as “the Englishman.”
In all, hours of video and audio tape were collected. When it looked like the first-degree murder conspiracy and criminal solicitation cases were solid, we all trekked over to the Hall of Justice and testified before a sitting Grand Jury with the hopes they’d return a sealed indictment on both charges.
After the indictments were returned, our boss suggested to the local ADA assigned to our task force that we parley the Tasker/Krogran murder conspiracy case into the other 90-plus drug sale cases so as not to compromise the lengthy narco investigation. No doubt the press would dig into the facts of this undercover “hit man” case and we were concerned the other targets would blow town. So on the morning of the raid, armed with arrest and search warrants, Tasker and Krogran were arrested on the two-count conspiracy/murder indictment along with over 100 others who were booked on an assortment of charges ranging from drug possession, possession with intent to distribute, and sale of controlled substances. Immediately after the arrests, the reverend, his wife, and baby Angela were put into hiding for fears that associates of Tasker and Krogran would attempt to carry out their threat.
A year later, after both Tasker and Krogran were convicted and awaiting sentencing, the reverend’s secretary at his office received a call from a male claiming to be one of the UC detectives stating he had urgent business with the reverend and inquiring of his whereabouts and that of now 4-year old Angela. She thought the call was strange since our team had set up in advance a code-word introductory protocol should they need to reach either the reverend or his wife. The secretary notified the task force office.
My partner and I were working that day. The caller left his phone number. A controlled phone call was made later that day from task-force headquarters by the reverend’s wife, Julie, that was answered by a woman. Julie asked if the person who answered the phone was the detective’s wife identifying the detective by name. When the woman answered “yes” and asked for the reverend’s unlisted phone number, the reverend’s wife refused and said she’d have the reverend call back later.
Another call to that number was made about an hour later which was answered by the “detective” wherein the reverend’s wife stated that she and her husband had dinner reservations at a local restaurant, and if the detective wished, he could meet them there. With surveillance abound, the “detective” showed up with a female accomplice. Both were scooped up by my partner and me. The two were found to be Eliza Tasker’s mother, Arleen Tasker, age 38, and her boyfriend, Richard Dillen, age 32. Both were charged with criminal impersonation and harassment.
Eliza Tasker and Marshall Krogran were convicted of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and criminal solicitation and were sentenced to 12- and 8-year sentences respectively. Arleen Tasker and Richard Dillen were also eventually convicted. Arleen received a one-year sentence and Dillen received one year of probation.
Several of my task force buds have died, the rest are retired, but this unique twist into the weird world of Murder for Hire lives on in the burnt-out mind of Dave Graziano, ad hoc hit man.
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