Canadian Man Sentenced to 20 years for Kidnapping and Murder-for-Hire Plot

On October 18, 2010, United States District Court Chief Justice Mark L. Wolf sentenced Nicholas Djokich to 20 years in a federal penitentiary for his role in a 2008 international kidnapping and murder-for-hire plot. As a result, Djokich will not be eligible for parole until 2026, when he will be 76 years old. Djokich was represented by the firm of Denner Pellegrino in Boston, Massachusetts.

Djokich, 60, is a Canadian national who was arrested in the United States in 2008 on charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. The target of his plot was Attorney Richard DeVries, a lawyer from the Bahamas. Djokich believed that DeVries had swindled him out of millions of dollars in a fraudulent investment scheme. Djokich therefore hatched a plan to send a hit man to the Bahamas to pressure DeVries into paying the money back. Djokich told the hit man that he would not mind if, after DeVries was forced to pay the money, the hit man "took DeVries fishing and he never came back."

The "hit man" Djokich hired, however, was actually an undercover police officer from Boston, M.B.T.A. Detective Peter Pasciucco. Detective Pasciucco secretly recorded several incriminating conversations between Djokich and himself, discussing the plot. Pasciucco also received a $10,000 cash payment from Djokich's associates, in a pre-arranged meeting in Burlington, Vermont.

One of Djokich's associates was Eginardo DeAngelis, a 74 year-old business man from Montreal. A government informant testified at trial that the murder-for-hire plot was hatched at Reber America, at the office of Mr. DeAngelis. DeAngelis was also present when the cash payment exchanged hands in Vermont. Djokich told the undercover officer that DeAngelis was a very powerful man connected with organized crime in Montreal.

At trial, Mr. DeAngelis was represented by Attorney David R. Yannetti and Attorney Robert L. Sheketoff. As lead counsel, Attorney Yannetti argued to the jury that Mr. DeAngelis did not know the extent of Djokich's plan. To the contrary, Attorney Yannetti argued that Mr. DeAngelis believed that undercover officer was being paid merely to collect a debt - and that no violence or threat of violence was involved. Attorney Yannetti attacked the prosecution's lack of evidence suggesting that DeAngelis was connected in any way with organized crime. Attorney Yannetti also argued that it was Djokich - and not DeAngelis - who had the motive to harm DeVries. Attorney Yannetti noted that DeVries himself testified at trial that he had never met DeAngelis and did not know who he was.

In June of this year, the jury convicted Djokich of both indictments. He therefore remained in custody until appearing before Judge Wolf for sentencing last week. The same jury found DeAngelis "not guilty" on both indictments he faced. After spending nearly two years in custody awaiting trial, therefore, DeAngelis was released and has since returned home to Canada.

Reached at his Boston office this morning, Attorney Yannetti commented, "Djokich's very lengthy sentence underscores the stakes that existed at Mr. DeAngelis's trial. I agreed to represent Eginardo DeAngelis because I believed he was innocent. After nearly two years of investigating this case and preparing for a fiercely contested trial, I was gratified that the jury agreed with me. Acquittals are rare in federal court. I applaud the courage of this jury to honestly assess the lack of evidence in his case and to return the just verdicts that it did."