The alleged murder plot gained credibility when federal agents found $42,400 in cash hidden inside a cereal box in the kitchen where the driver, Norman Russell Thellmann, 64, was living on March 3.
Thellmann, who was only suspected of furnishing cash to someone but claimed he didn’t know about the murder plot, remains free on $50,000 bond on home detention in Santee.
Court documents say Thellman faces a maximum term of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Nita Stormes set sentencing for Oct. 22.
The accountant, Steven Martinez, 50, who worked out of a Sorrento Valley office, has a trial date set for Sept. 5 in U.S. District Court.
Federal agents arrested both men in March before any attempt on the woman’s life occurred. She is a witness in a previous federal case against Martinez, who was indicted in 2011 on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, Social Security fraud, money laundering and identity theft.
A trial date in federal court was looming against Martinez, who had been free on $350,000 bond, when he allegedly asked a former employee to kill the La Jolla woman and another woman who lived in Rancho Santa Fe.
The former employee contacted the FBI after hearing Martinez’s proposal in late February. Martinez gave a detailed description of the two women and suggested he use two different pistols to shoot them, preferably with a silencer.
Martinez also gave his ex-employee color photos of the La Jolla woman’s condominium that included the patio, gate and sliding door, with the notation that she normally kept her gate unlocked.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Orabona asked the media not to publish the names of the two would-be victims.
Martinez allegedly told his ex-employee to talk to Thellmann to arrange payment for the murders. Martinez remains in the Metropolitan Correctional Center without bail and has pleaded not guilty.