Lingerie modeling shop owner sentenced to 8 years
The man was convicted in June of trying to hire a contract killer to firebomb his Bradenton competition.
By JUSTIN GEORGE
Published September 28, 2005
TAMPA - A man who tried to hire a contract killer to firebomb a Bradenton lingerie modeling agency was sentenced to eight years in federal prison in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.
Pele LaCruz Watkins, 29, of Tampa, will serve eight years in prison, followed by three more years for violating probation in Pennsylvania, federal officials said.
The sentencing followed Watkins' conviction on June 28 on charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and solicitation to commit a crime of violence; specifically, arson of an occupied building.
According to evidence at trial, authorities said, Watkins targeted a competitor's lingerie modeling agency known as "Cupids." The store is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day and employs 12 women who model lingerie for customers.
The firebombing plot could have jeopardized more than 20 lives, evidence showed, since it was scheduled to occur on a Friday evening - the store's busiest day.
Watkins was caught after he met with an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on at least two occasions in October 2004. The agent posed as a contract killer from New York City, and federal authorities said Watkins solicited the agent's participation in the plot.
Watkins wanted the agent to plant at least two explosive devices with timers at Cupids, authorities said. He provided the agent with a loaded 9-mm semiautomatic pistol as down payment, with the promise of paying him $3,000.
[Last modified September 28, 2005, 18:08:02]
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