Hit Man Tells Jury He Was Paid $3,000 for Murder : Courts: He testifies that payment was made by a reputed mobster who was arranging the contract for a wealthy South County businessman.
An admitted hit man and underworld “debt collector” testified Thursday that he was hired to kill a Mission Viejo man who, prosecutors contend, stood in the way of an Orange County businessman’s romantic pursuits.
Blake Tek Yoon, 27, told a federal court jury that he was paid $3,000 to kill Wilbur Constable, 25. The payment was made by a reputed mobster who was arranging the murder contract for a “very wealthy” South County businessman, Yoon said.
Federal prosecutors allege that the businessman was Julius F. Schill, 57, of San Juan Capistrano, who is on trial, along with reputed mobster Richard M. Dota, in U.S. District Court. Both are charged with murder for hire and conspiracy.
Attorneys for the defendants have said their clients are innocent and that Yoon, the prosecution’s star witness, is an unreliable source because of his criminal record.
In exchange for Yoon’s testimony and his guilty plea to murder for hire, county and federal prosecutors said they will drop unrelated charges he has accumulated through the years. Those charges include a murder in a Panama prison cell in the early 1980s, as well as a spate of robberies, assaults and counterfeiting.
Prosecutors also agreed to recommend to a judge that Yoon’s prison sentence be less than the maximum for murder for hire, which is 15 years.
As jurors listened intently Thursday, Yoon testified that he met with Dota at an Italian restaurant for cocktails and was asked to kill Constable.
Dota “basically told me that a person had to go,” said Yoon in a monotone.
“What do you mean by ‘had to go?’ ” asked Assistant U.S. Atty. Paul Seave.
“Bury him,” replied Yoon.
“By bury you mean kill him?” Seave asked.
“Yeah,” Yoon said.
Yoon’s testimony was key for the prosecution to try to connect the defendants to the Oct. 11, 1991, attack on Constable. He survived, despite being beaten with baseball bats and shot in the head.
Prosecutors allege that Schill was “so desperate” to have an affair with his secretary, Cynthia Asher, that he paid Dota $21,000 to arrange to have Constable, her fiance, killed. Dota then made a deal with Yoon to carry out the murder, they said.
Schill’s attorney said his client was already sexually involved with Asher, 24, and claimed in opening statements earlier this week that she, in fact, had more of a motive to kill Constable because he had named her the beneficiary of more than $100,000 in life insurance.
Yoon testified that Dota told him he wanted Constable dead because he was a competing mobster from Ohio.
“I believed that he was a wise guy, (who had) gone south, or sour, with some people and that he was no good. . . . A thug is what I understood him to be. Like myself.”
Dota told him that the killing had to be done between the last week in September and the first week of October, 1991, because the man who paid for the hit would be out of the country then, Yoon testified. Prosecutors have said that Schill was in South America during that period.
Yoon added that Dota also warned him several times “not to touch the girl.”
Days before the attack on Constable, Dota flew into Orange County to help plan the killing, Yoon testified. Both decided Constable should be killed at a secluded parking lot in an industrial area in Irvine, he said.
Yoon then hired two associates for $500 each to help carry out the killing. John Caravaggio, 28, and Scott Smith, 23, both from New Jersey, have since pleaded guilty to murder for hire.
Last year, on the night of Oct. 11, the three men lured Constable to an isolated area on the pretext of paying for hit-and-run damage to his car, Yoon said. Constable came with a gun, but he was overpowered and attacked by Yoon and the two others, who were wielding baseball bats, he said.
After the beating, Yoon shot Constable once through the back of his head “to kill him,” he testified.
He shot Constable, he said, “because I didn’t have time to finish what I had intended to do with the bats. . . . I wanted to finish what I had come to do.”
He later called Dota to tell him he had accomplished the killing and that Dota reacted with “satisfaction,” Yoon testified.