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FBI agent's affidavit details attempted murder for hire



Published: Wed, April 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The farmhand talked about paying an undercover agent $7,000 to kill Sandra J. Ferrante.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

CLEVELAND -- Believing U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.'s horse trainer was an FBI informant, the congressman's farmhand said he and Traficant wanted her to be killed in summer 2000, court papers show.

Traficant was convicted of racketeering crimes last week. At times during his 10-week trial, he talked about "the murder charge," saying the FBI smeared his name near the November 2000 election with news stories about a murder plot but didn't charge him.

"She can take him down before his wife could take him down," the farmhand, Clarence T. Broad, told an undercover FBI agent, who recorded the conversation in August 2000.

The agent had passed himself off as a hit man and went to the congressman's horse farm in Greenford to discuss price and details. The price was $7,000 to do away with Sandra J. Ferrante, who lived at the farm for 17 years to train and show Traficant's saddlebred horses.

Affidavit tells of scheme

An affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent Herbert D. Fitzgerald Jr. and recently unsealed in U.S. District Court describes how the murder-for-hire story began unfolding Aug. 24, 2000. Traficant was referred to as "the target" in the affidavit.

That afternoon, a friend of Traficant's, an unidentified self-employed contractor, called "source" in the affidavit, contacted Chief Deputy Dave Smith of the Columbiana County Sheriff's Department. Earlier that morning, the contractor had been with Traficant and Broad at a restaurant in Washingtonville.

The contractor said Traficant wanted him to put siding on a deer stand at the horse farm on state Route 165. The contractor followed Traficant and Broad to the farm to look at the stand.

The contractor quoted Traficant a price for the siding, then the congressman "abruptly walked away," leaving the contractor alone with Broad, who said he and Traficant believed Ferrante was passing information to the FBI, the affidavit states. Broad said he and Traficant wanted the contractor to "take care of her" or it would cost $10,000 to get a guy from Florida to do it, the affidavit states.

At the time, Broad, 43, had received a grand jury subpoena, which he misinterpreted as being his indictment, Fitzgerald said.

Originally from Florida, Broad has a long criminal record, including convictions for burglary, forgery, escape, theft, DUI and cocaine possession in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida and California. He was convicted of tampering with a grand jury witness, Ferrante, received a 27-month term and has been in the federal prison in Elkton since April 2001.

Contacts sheriff, FBI

At the farm, meanwhile, Broad told the contractor that Ferrante had enough information on Traficant to put him in prison for 15 years. "[Traficant] and I have talked and agree that if we could get rid of her, the FBI has nothing on" the congressman, the affidavit quotes Broad.

The contractor "left the situation open in the farmhand's mind," Fitzgerald said in his affidavit. The contractor, not wanting to be an accessory to murder, then went to the Columbiana County Sheriff's Department and told Smith what happened.

Smith and the contractor then contacted the FBI. The plan was to have the contractor bring an undercover agent to the farm Aug. 25, 2000, and make Broad believe the agent was a hit man.

"The farmhand [Broad] said that this sounded OK; however, Traficant was out of town and the farmhand would have to run the details by Traficant when he returned to town on Aug. 26," the contractor told the FBI, court papers show.

On Aug. 26, 2000, the contractor and undercover agent went to the congressman's farm. The contractor left Broad alone with the agent, who taped their conversation.

Agreeing on details

The following are excerpts from the transcript:

Agent: OK. On that other problem, you know, um, what's like seven [$7,000] sound.

Broad: I'll just let him know.

Agent: You let him know and, uh, and I need half up front.

Broad: Yep.

Agent: OK, 'cause I mean after I do it, what's to keep you guys from saying.

Broad: Oh yeah, oh yeah, I know. I know. Things like a man, it's too hard, you can't keep things like that on a low profile if ain't work right.

Agent: How does, how does, uh, how do you guys want it to go down?

Broad: Uh, let me find out, let me talk to [Traficant] about it.

Agent: OK. You just tell him.

Broad: I'll tell him, I'll see what he got to say and I'll tell him the price and I'll tell him.

Agent: So it'll be $3,500 up front.

Broad: $3,500 up front, half down.

Agent: And you go through [contractor] there.

Broad: Yeah, I'll go through [contractor] there. I'll just, I'll meet with [contractor] and I'll talk to him and I'll talk to [Traficant] and tell [contractor] simple as that.

Agent: You just, you just tell him where the funds come from. I don't want it traced, you know.

Broad: Oh, you ain't gotta worry. [Traficant] pays cash.

Agent: 'Cause the heat's --

Broad: He's a cash man. He's a cash man.

Agent: The heat's gonna come down on, you know, however we make it look like, so, I don't know, I don't know what, what would, I mean what's your idea.

Broad: The b---- needs to suffer to me. She needs to suffer. [Unintelligible] man, she is that, she's a hateful, conceited b----.

Arranging later meeting

Later in the transcript:

Broad: Well, listen, let me find out how he, what he wants done, how he wants it to work and all. You know.

Agent: Because we gotta come to an agreement.

Broad: Yeah, well let me get an OK from him then I'll talk with him then he can, we all can meet together and talk.

Agent: That's fine.

Broad: You know. Tell the rest of what's going on. He might want to do it a different way. He might, you know.

Agent: That's fine. I don't care. I don't care.

Broad: You know, he just, he wants to do with it, he might want to do it with where he's not, you know, where he's not nowhere in the state.

Agent: That's fine.

Broad: That's cool, that's the best way to do it.

Agent: That's the best way.

'The FBI wants the man'

Later in the transcript:

Broad: You can believe me, you might not know nothing, I don't know anything about Mr. [Traficant].

Agent: I don't know anything.

Broad: But the man, the man knows how to cover hisself, believe me. They been, they been trying, the FBI took him to court one time, they tried to say he was dealing with the mob. He beat them like a doorbell.

Agent: Well, if he's against the FBI then he's a friend of mine.

Broad: He's fighting the FBI now.

Later in the transcript:

Broad: Oh, hell, the police is trying to bug him, the FBI is trying to f------ put him in jail and that's the key, the keys of his whole problem is right there. She can take him down with no problem she can take him down.

Agent: Well, I understand that.

Broad: She can take him down before his wife could take him down.

Agent: I understand that.

Broad: You know, but the man, like the man ask me, what can I do about it. You don't want me to tell you what you need to do. You made the bed, you gonna have to decide. You know, so I know the man got to eat his words if he tells me this. So, then that's why I thought.

Later in the transcript:

Broad: They want the man bad, the FBI wants the man so bad they gonna get him on something. It's not what they want him for, but it'll be something. That's how bad they want this guy.

Agent: Tell him to watch his a-- then.

Broad: Oh yeah, he taken on, he taken on, he taken, he taken, the man is a bulldog, he won't give up. I mean they gonna have to, they gonna have to come in the, they gonna have to have the, they gonna have to have the living evidence in that courtroom to beat that man.

Agent: Well.

Broad: I'm tellin' ya they gonna have to have.

Agent: With this, they won't. They'll never know where I came from.

Broad: Well I know that. I understand that. I can understand that, that's good.

Agent: OK.

Broad: OK.

Ferrante informed of plans

On Aug. 28, 2000, the FBI played the tape for Ferrante. She told the FBI that she had encouraged Traficant to fire Broad for neglecting the horses and the congressman did let Broad go for a while.

After Traficant rehired Broad, Ferrante became upset and, in front of Broad, slashed three tires on Traficant's car, Fitzgerald said in his affidavit. Traficant "responded by telling Sandra that 'she's done, she's gotta go,' " according to the affidavit.

Ferrante testified at Traficant's trial as a defense witness.

She said she apologized to Traficant for going to the press in December 2000, after Broad was charged, and criticizing the congressman, who had stuck up for the farmhand.

Ferrante testified that she felt used by the FBI, who put her in protective custody after discovering the plot to kill her. She felt used because she didn't understand why the episode wasn't part of Traficant's indictment and why she wasn't called by the prosecution to testify.

Ferrante said Craig S. Morford, the lead prosecutor, wasn't very nice to her when she testified at the grand jury. She said he asked questions about her past shoplifting episodes and her contacting Traficant's district director when she got arrested.

meade@vindy.com




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