A Simi Valley man failed to show up for his sentencing after writing a letter to a judge, saying he could not face the prospect of going to prison for trying to arrange the contract murder of his cousin, authorities said Monday.
Abed Mahmoud Jabaieh, 30, released on $200,000 bail, was scheduled to show up for sentencing in Ventura County Superior Court on Friday. He could have received up to nine years in state prison for offering an undercover sheriff’s deputy $5,000 to kill his cousin, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Ed Brodie.
The prosecutor said Jabaieh, who pleaded guilty in December to solicitation of murder, is probably in Jerusalem, where he lived before moving to the United States. Brodie said he contacted federal authorities for help in locating Jabaieh. He said he hopes that Jabaieh can be extradited to the United States.
Jabaieh had first been scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 6. But Judge Steven Perren, on the condition that Jabaieh surrender his passport within three hours, granted a delay so Jabaieh could prepare a statement asking for leniency.
The passport was never turned over, however, and “the next thing we heard was in a letter postmarked from Oxnard,” Perren said. “It was very apologetic, saying he was sorry, but he could not bear the prospect of going to prison.”
It was unclear who was responsible for ensuring that Jabaieh turn in the passport.
“This man had $200,000 cash to put up. That’s just a pile of money. . . . It seemed like we had adequate security,” Brodie said.
After authorities received the letter in early January, Perren issued a warrant for Jabaieh’s arrest. Then court officials waited for Friday’s hearing. “The letter could have been fraudulent. We had to wait to see whether he would show up,” Brodie said.
Jabaieh, who owned a liquor store in Simi Valley, was arrested last February after asking a private investigator to set up the contract killing of his cousin, Jamal Jabaieh, Brodie said.
Meeting With Investigator
Authorities said the investigator notified them of Abed Jabaieh’s offer. A meeting was then arranged between Abed Jabaieh and the private investigator, who was to bring along a hit man. At the meeting, Jabaieh turned over $400 to the private investigator, who was accompanied by an undercover sheriff’s deputy, authorities said. Jabaieh also promised that he would pay $5,000 more after the killing, Brodie said.
Neither Brodie nor Jamal Jabaieh said they knew of a motive. “I never had any disagreement with Abed,” said Jamal Jabaieh, 23.
Jamal Jabaieh had sued Mohamad Jabaieh, Abed’s brother, over the name of their competing Simi Valley Mexican restaurants. “I filed a lawsuit against Mohamad, not Abed,” Jamal Jabaieh said.