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Malden man pleads guilty in ‘murder-for-hire’ plot targeting his wife

massimo marenghi
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Faces federal prison term for role in ‘setting up the hit’ with undercover federal agent on New Year’s Day, 2021

  A 56-year-old Malden man, who thought he was hiring a contract killer to murder his wife but was actually speaking to an undercover federal agent, has pleaded guilty to a murder-for-hire plot. Massimo Marenghi, pled guilty in U.S. District Court last Thursday, March 16, to plotting to have his wife killed, going so far as to make a cash deposit to whom he believed was a contract killer and advising the person on how to best avoid being seen at the would-be victim’s residence.

  His plot was undone by someone who had initially appeared to be helping Marenghi, an informant referred to in the probable cause affidavit as a “confidential source” or “CS.” Marenghi had apparently “raised the topic of killing his wife” with CS, who would later tell authorities that he tried to dissuade Marenghi from doing so.

  A series of text messages on Jan. 1, 2021, convinced the informant that Marenghi was serious. According to the court affidavit, Marenghi told the source that he was having issues with his wife and that she had sought a restraining order against him. At that time, Marenghi “again raised the topic of killing his wife,” the affidavit says.

  The informant then apparently told Marenghi what it would take to do the job. The affidavit reads, “CS responded that if MARENGHI was serious about having his wife killed, then the cost would be $10,000 in cash.

  “MARENGHI agreed and provided CS with photographs of his wife, information regarding his wife’s employment location and hours, her home address in Malden, a description of her vehicle, and her telephone number.”

  After that conversation, the affidavit says, the confidential source contacted the Northwood Police Department in New Hampshire. The local cops contacted the FBI, who interviewed CS the next day. After that, CS agreed to help with the investigation against Marenghi. Days later, on Jan. 13, 2021, under the direction of the FBI, CS gave Marenghi the name and contact information for someone who Marenghi believed “could be hired to murder his wife but who, in reality, would be an undercover FBI agent,” according to the affidavit.

  The confidential source also told Marenghi what coded words to use in order to convey his request, “specifically that MARENGHI refer to the person as ‘Mrs. Smith,’ identify himself as someone named ‘Boston,’ and inquire about the ‘construction job,’” the affidavit says.

  Marenghi reached out to the undercover agent, who was referred to as “UC” in the affidavit, that same day, calling the number provided by CS and using the code words. That call was recorded. “Using coded language, the undercover agent indicated that the job would require ‘blueprints,’ ‘pictures of the site,’ ‘what time work could start,’ and a ‘preliminary invoice,’” the affidavit says. Marenghi and the undercover agent scheduled an in-person meeting for Jan. 20, 2021, about a week later.

  The affidavit detailed what happened during that meeting: During the meeting, Marenghi described a “situation” he needs “taken care of” – that is, his “soon-to-be” ex-wife. UC asked, “You want to get rid of her?” to which Marenghi responded, “Yeah, I need to … to eliminate that problem.” UC stated, “I mean, we can make it look like an accident … it is your call.” Marenghi replied, “Yeah, well, I mean obviously that’s the best way.”

  At one point, Marenghi stated, “Well, I just – I just need her out of the way for now.” UC responded, “OK, well that’s … that’s totally different. You either want her killed or you don’t.” Marenghi stated, “Um, I need – I need the problem eliminated,” according to the court affidavit.

  Marenghi told the undercover agent that he may need some time to “free up some assets” in order to cover the $10,000 price tag. He also provided UC with a picture of his wife’s residence and explained how a contract killing could be carried out, documents show. He “explained in detail the location of the camera outside his wife’s house and described how someone could stand behind the barrels at the end of the driveway such that the person would be hidden from any cameras and out of sight from his wife,” the affidavit says. He “further provided a possible exit route likely to evade detection.”

  During a meeting nine days later, Marenghi gave UC $1,500 cash as a deposit for the murder, the affidavit says, apparently adding that the sooner the “demolition job” took place, the sooner he could pay the balance.

  Marenghi was indicted the following month, in March 2021. He faces a potential 10 years in prison and possible financial penalties. U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled sentencing for June 8.

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