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Pasco man charged with murder plot


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 6, 2000

TAMPA -- A 20-year-old Pasco County man wanted someone dead, authorities said, but he wanted someone else to do the dirty work.

Detectives said Steven James Schwartz detailed a murder plot to a man late Saturday night: He wanted his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend killed with his own gun. Schwartz would provide transportation.

Schwartz promised the potential hitman, actually an undercover Hillsborough sheriff's deputy, $5,000 up front and $5,000 after the murder, officials said.

Instead, Schwartz was charged Monday with solicitation to commit murder. He was already in the Pasco County Jail, arrested Sunday at his Wesley Chapel home on a charge of violating his probation for an earlier sexual battery conviction. Schwartz, a registered sexual predator, had knives and a gun in his room, authorities said.

He was being held without bond in the Pasco County jail Monday night .

Schwartz's mother, Katherine Schwartz, said the whole thing is "pretty ridiculous." She said her son is mentally challenged and writes on a third-grade level. He's not capable of plotting to kill someone, she said, no matter how much he threatens or how mad he gets.

Mrs. Schwartz said that if her son did speak to a deputy posing as a hitman, he acted on impulse and had no money to back up his threats. He can't work because he is on house arrest and she provides for him.

"I know that in the real world, it doesn't matter that you have disabilities," Mrs. Schwartz said. "You have to be a functional member of society. He's got to learn that."

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