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Man hired undercover agent to kill family member who was sleeping with his wife over ‘substantial inheritance’: Sheriff

Robert C. Thomas (Todd County Sheriff's Office)

Robert C. Thomas (Todd County Sheriff’s Office)

A 38-year-old man in Minnesota has been arrested for allegedly offering to pay a hitman $50,000 to kill a member of his family who was also having an affair with his wife. However, the murder-for-hire plot was foiled when the individual he tried to hire for the job turned out to be an undercover law enforcement agent, according to a press release from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

Robert Charles Thomas Sr. was taken into custody on Monday and charged with one count of felony conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, jail records show. He is currently being held on $250,000 bond.

According to a copy of the criminal complaint filed in Todd County District Court, Thomas believed that in addition to getting rid of his wife’s lover, the family member’s death would also also result in him gaining a “substantial” endowment, Minneapolis Fox affiliate KMSP reported.

“Thomas reportedly believed that he stood to inherit a substantial amount of money and property upon the family member’s death,” the document reportedly states. “Another possible motive for the alleged murder-for-hire plot is that the targeted family member is currently romantically involved with Thomas’s wife.”

The investigation into Thomas reportedly began in March, when an informant, who is not named in court documents, allegedly informed the Todd County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) that Thomas in 2021 had paid someone $10,000 to have the family member killed. According to the report, the informant said that in the summer of 2021, the hired hitman actually went into the family member’s home, but left without shooting anyone.

Agents from the BCA and TCSO then scheduled a meeting in which an undercover agent posed as a hitman and met with the informant and Thomas in a grocery store parking lot on April 6.

Thomas and the undercover agent reportedly spoke to each other inside the undercover’s vehicle for approximately an hour. The conversation, which was recorded, included Thomas stating he wanted the other man “gone,” and providing details about the family member’s daily habits, standard travel routes, and descriptions of his vehicles.

“Thomas made it clear that he wanted the targeted family member killed, ‘just gone’ – as opposed to being merely injured or maimed,” court documents reportedly stated. “The undercover agent gave Thomas a phone number to call if he changed his mind about going through with it, as the assassination would happen early Monday morning if Thomas did not call it off. He would have a long Easter weekend to think about it.”

Investigators say Thomas allegedly confessed to having hired the hitman in 2021 and further agreed to pay whom he believed to be the new hitman $50,000, which would come in installments from the funds he stood to inherit in the event of the family member’s death. Additionally, Thomas allegedly expressed regret about not killing the family member himself.

“[Thomas] encouraged the undercover agent to kill the targeted family member whenever the opportunity arose over the long weekend,” the complaint states, according to the Star Tribune, adding that a “murder-for-hire agreement had been reached” and that Thomas “did not call it off” before the killing was supposed to take place.

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After he was arrested at his place of employment, authorities reportedly said Thomas “largely acknowledged that all of the events stated” in the court documents did in fact take place “as described,” per the Tribune.

If convicted, Thomas faces up to 20 years in prison.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.