Stock fraud defendant indicted in hitman plot on judge

NEW YORK - A former brokerage executive jailed on stock fraud charges has been indicted for allegedly hiring a hitman to kill the Manhattan judge hearing his case.

Stuart Winkler, 47, of Morganville, N.J., arranged with a fellow inmate in June to have State Supreme Court Justice Leslie Crocker Snyder slain, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday. He pleaded innocent to murder conspiracy and criminal solicitation.

Winkler wanted to get rid of Snyder, who is known as a no-nonsense judge and a tough sentencer, so another judge could be assigned to his case, prosecutors said.

''It was his view that if he had Judge Snyder killed, he could get a judge who would set more favorable bail conditions,'' said Assistant District Attorney Daniel McGillicuddy.

Winkler's lawyer, Jack Litman, suggested the hitman-informant could be lying. He said McGillicuddy was quoting ''an inmate who is trying to work his way out of something by proposing something to this man (Winkler).''

Winkler, his firm and 48 others were indicted last year on a charge of enterprise corruption for taking part in securities fraud while he was chief financial officer at A.S. Goldmen Co. of Naples, Fla.

Winkler and the others were accused of bilking investors, many of them elderly, out of some $100 million by lying to them, executing unauthorized trades, ignoring their sell orders, forgery and theft.

He faces up to 25 years in prison for enterprise corruption if he is convicted. Winkler faces another 25 years in prison if convicted on the murder conspiracy charge.

Winkler gave the intended hitman the telephone number of a company that would arrange payment for the murder, McGillicuddy said. He said Winkler also gave the would-be killer information about Snyder's security arrangements and told him when her vacation began.

Snyder is the most protected judge in Manhattan. Due to threats on her life during the trials of murderous drug gangs over the past several years, court officers search everyone who enters her courtroom.

The judge had no comment on Winkler's alleged plot. David Bookstaver, spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, said it was unlikely that Snyder will preside over the fraud case.


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