Chicago lawyer pleads guilty to taking contract out on client
Chicago has always been known for its gangsters – Al Capone, Bugs Moran, John Dillinger, Michael Flatley. Now there’s another name to add to the list. Step forward – if the chains on your legs will allow you freedom of movement – divorce lawyer Jason W. Smiekel.
Smiekel started off as a talented and ‘mild-mannered’ lawyer with a successful practice. Problems arose when he started dating an ex-client whose ex-boyfriend took offence, allegedly subjecting Smiekel – not to be confused with the Coronation Street dog of a similar name – to months of harassment and blackmail. The ex-boyfriend apparently had ‘dirt’ on Smiekel that could ruin the lawyer’s career.
Smiekel decided that the only escape was to ‘rub out’ (our cliche) the ex-boyfriend, and started searching for someone to carry out a contract killing. He asked one client who owed him attorney fees, and another who ran off with a juicy $8,000 down payment.
Undeterred, Smiekel asked another client who got so worried that he contacted the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who deployed an undercover federal agent to ‘sting’ Smiekel (again, our cliche).
Smiekel gave the agent $1,500 and a photo of the intended victim, and later passed over another $7,000 in cash in the car park of a local restaurant. He promised a further $11,500 after completion of the project: this made the total payment almost identical to the cost of a new Nissan Note 1.5.
Smiekel has pleaded guilty to plotting to hire a hitman, but his attorney, Ralph Meczyk, is seeking a shorter sentence than the maximum ten years. ‘It was not a rational decision,’ says Meczyk. ‘His mind was just really scrambled at the time.’ Meczyk will be using lots of character witnesses at the trial. ‘He’s a nice kid,’ the attorney adds. AB