CEDAR RAPIDS — While serving time in prison on a gun conviction, a Traer man hired a hit man in May to kill his ex-wife and her boyfriend, according to court documents.
What Jason Troy Harriman didn’t know was the hit man was an undercover police officer. He gave Harriman multiple chances to not go through with the crime. Harriman, however, sealed the murder-for-hire scheme by signing a contract, an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court shows.
During a brief preliminary hearing Tuesday, U.S. Chief Magistrate CJ Williams said he found probable cause Harriman, 44, committed the alleged crimes.
Harriman will remain in jail pending trial, which has not been set.
In the affidavit for the criminal complaint, Special Agent Everett Wayland with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Harriman, while serving a 10 1/2-year sentence at Forrest City Federal Correction Institution in Arkansas for two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, repeatedly asked another inmate to get him in touch with someone to kill his ex-wife and her boyfriend, who lived in Iowa.
Agents provided the inmate with a phone number of the undercover officer to pass on to Harriman, Wayland said.
The inmate told agents Harriman also was threatening the woman in emails and phone calls from prison. He blamed her for him being in prison, the inmate said.
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On Feb. 28, the undercover officer received a call from Harriman, and the two began exchanging emails in which Harriman provided information about his ex-wife, according to court documents.
During the emails and phone calls with the officer, Harriman spoke in “code.” He referred to his ex-wife and her boyfriend as “two areas of interest or properties,” and one will “need to be completely demolished, and the other will do a little facial remodeling.”
The undercover officer continued phone conversations with Harriman through March and April, and they discussed payment arrangements. Harriman talked about selling his car for a down payment.
Later in April, when the undercover officer visited Harriman at the prison, Harriman started wavering about what he wanted done to his ex-wife. The undercover officer, who covertly was recording audio, repeatedly told Harriman he could back out of the deal.
Harriman began to suspect the man was with law enforcement, but the officer convinced him he was not, according to court documents. The officer told Harriman it would cost him $25,000 if both were killed together or $45,000 if they were killed separately, according to court documents.
The officer suggested Harriman think about it, and if Harriman decided to hire the hit man, he would have to sign a contract.
Harriman eventually signed the contract, indicating he wanted the two killed together for $21,000, according to documents.